Last Thursday the Hard Life crew took a trip into Soho for an evening in one of the best record shops our city has to offer, Phonica Records, for the Max Graef & Glenn Astro in-store. Promoting the release of their new joint album The Yard Work Simulator, out 27th May on Ninja Tune, the pair dug deep into their eclectic collections and treated a packed Phonica to delightful jazz-inflected house, weaving through Brazilian samba cuts, hip-hop, and their own multifaceted back catalogues.

All the racks were pushed back in an attempt to create enough space but it wasn’t enough and many of those in attendance were forced to wait outside and enjoy the sun, the street beers and the remnants of the music as it filtered out through the shop entrance. That second point is key to the ever increasing success of these events – which was notable as the lights were turned back on to accompany the final closing selections of Thesda’s Hear You Clearly and Jorge de Capadocia’s Caetano Veloso – as empty cans and bottles were left on practically every available surface in the building showing that if you combine great music with affordable booze, people will come! 

Phonica Max Graef In Store x Hard Life

Once everyone filed out of the shop with a beaming smile on their face (staff and DJs included) it was on to the after party at Dance Tunnel in Dalston where Max & Glenn were given the entire night to work up a sweat, courtesy once again of Ninja Tune. After a quick stop for the Hard Life team to fuel up on wine and chocolate cake, we were descending the steep staircase and into the tunnel for perhaps the last time. Every visit to the venue after the recent shock announcement that it would be closing its doors in August seems to have a touch of melancholy but as the ‘Ahh yeah’ of Greg Cash’s Party Chat welcomed us through the doors it’s near impossible not to leave your troubles behind and immediately get into the vibe.

We climbed the slight slope towards the front, round the side of the booth and rooted down for the night, enjoying both the view and the high quality sound from the club’s celebrated bespoke Funktion One soundsystem. Although both Max and Glenn are highly prolific producers, there was no MPC, no rhodes organ in sight as tonight was all about celebrating and playing records. Disco and house formed the basis of the proceedings, but the mixing style was more hip-hop than anything with a very ‘hands-on’ approach. Over the duration of the night it became clear exactly what the pair are trying to exude on their label Money $ex Records – wonky, jazz infused house, hip-hop sensibilities and pure enjoyment. 

Preview the forthcoming album The Yard Work Simulator on Ninja Tune’s Soundcloud.

© Photo – Phonica records