15 Track, LP (2012, Sensory Projects)
Related: Agents Of Abhorrence, Brain Children, Crumbs, Max Kohane, Max Crumbs, Internal Rot, Pivixxi.
It's easy to grow homicidally jealous of Max Kohane. The talented Melbourne musician seemingly does what he wants with ease – from his pulverising drumming and singing in thrash acts Agents of Abhorrence and Internal Rot to the more avant garde Pivixxi with Anthony Pateras and his collaboration with Mikey Young in Brain Children. The alias Max Crumbs is Kohane's foray into solo bedroom beat production, and the results are stellar as always.
At first listen, Maidenhair seems to follow in the tradition of slow tempo and chopped beats. The cut-and-paste collage owes much to contemporaries such as Clams Casino and Jonti, but there is also an obvious influence of the experimentation of the late J Dilla; the heavy beats of LA's “Low End Theory” club night channeled via Kohane's family home in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton where the album was recorded. From the opening 'Sunbath' and its sparkling keys, his debut is a lot gentler affair then some of his other musical pursuits. Tracks like 'Booger Dam' moves like a starfish in a rock pool – slow wonky and woozy – while ‘Return To The Fruity Village’ is a narcotic nod-off.
The album is all instrumental, the only vocals coming in the form of sampled soundbites. 'Baby Thighs' has a mysterious vocal chant that could be Middle-Eastern, South Asian, or even gibberish. The effect, however, is mesmerising. While bedroom beat music can sometimes sound clinical – all programmed hand claps and looped grooves – Maidenhair has a sense of warmth. Like the plant it’s named after, the beats weave in and out, almost growing around the listener.
That being said, you get a feel listening to parts of the record that Kohane is still trying to find his feet. One of the best tracks on the album, 'Smoothie Operator', has the sound of wind chimes interlaced with incomprehensible background conversation; while 'Missing LJA', a song dedicated to former housemate (My Disco’s Liam Andrews, who now lives in London), has a bigger bass sound that develops into a swirling and sweeping melodic hooks.
A mixed bag – but a quality one at that.
by Tim Scott