Moods 12: Max Ellington

Published on 2018-12-02

My bbs :) Have we all already cuddled up as the season turns inward to our fireplaces, sofas, and beds? Looking out the window longingly at snow like me? If so, I have a great view from my room and you're more than welcome to join me for some tea.

This is also monumental because, on December 31, we will be one year old (!!!!!). One year of Moods means looking back, reflecting, and dancing, so stay tuned for some fun upcoming hangs, next year's lineup, and more.

To match our mood, we have the legend Max Ellington (née Max Berry) on an all-vinyl, all-soft set full of rich ambient tones, texural electro drones, and more. Head below for the mix, interview, list, and art.

TO LISTEN

here :)

TO LEARN

Max centers his mix on a few regions and moments in time. His early days in Ann Arbor, Michigan opened up the gateway to crate digging, odd finds, and new discoveries. "Ann Arbor is the birthplace of Ghostly International," Max begins. "I was first told about Ghostly when I was a kid, and while it didn't initially stick—Lusine would have been a bit over my head at that point, I imagine—I eventually circled back around and got really into School of Seven Bells, Tycho and others. The music I discovered through that label, a particularly relevant favorite being Heathered Pearls' Loyal album, definitely gave me a lot of the experiences that furthered my interest in the music in the mix." Other haunts, like Encore Records, WCBN, and the 35min drive to Detroit echo not only his mix but with others in the Moods community as well: finding spaces, no matter where  you live, that give you access to music, both old and new, aren't always hours away.

As Max moved from Ann Arbor to other cities, like Washington, D.C., and eventually Los Angeles (where he now resides), the internet also played an essential role in learning, digging, and discovering. Pandora's algorithms turned him toward Steve Hauschildt's "Stare into Space" (Max's note: listen while riding the D.C. metro), while bit-torrenting (Limewire, anyone?) introduced him to Future Sound of London and many more. "I probably didn't know what to do with that stuff back then," Max notes, "but as I listened to it all I started to connect the dots." Then one Aphex Twin record later (SAW II), he began learning to weave songs together, as a set, for DJing. "It's very funny how the order in which you encounter these things, totally by chance in many cases, has such a profound effect on what hooks you and when. I could have ended up in a completely different place if I had tried to listen to Aphex Twin before FSOL instead!"

The best part up till now was a lack of proper, heavy techno. That was solved with the movie Blade (1998) with, specifically, "the blood rave scene in Blade. So, I guess I'd say it sounded like it was for vampires!" It was Confusion (Reconstruction Mix) by Pump Panel, and after endless repeats on his friend's iPod, he dug into Detroit, the history, DJing, Movement, Interdimentional Transmissions, and more. "When I saw Carl Craig play live as 69 and I could hear the fusion of soul, funk, future sounds... It was the first time I heard a set that made the lineage of techno culture from black dance clubs through to the present form so explicit, so tangible. I love the sound, of course, but the cultural and historical significance of techno, and the fact that it's a distinctly Midwestern art form, made it infinitely more important to me."

And some advise for us all: do your homework. "Always keep working to better understand why techno parties exist, why they need/needed to happen underground, and who is communicating to/for whom in this music. Get educated, gain a sense of respect for the people who paved the way out of necessity, learn to share the space where you are a guest, and most importantly, be able to identify and support who is genuine and making a real positive difference right now in your community.

"You will be rewarded with a more whole experience each time you go out to listen to music—feeling a greater connection with the people dancing and with those who came before us. It's all fun but if you put in the extra effort it can really be something special!"

Ain't that just the right note to end our year on xxxx

TO LIST

1. Steven Leggett - Bathhouse
2. Dedekind Cut - Virtues
3. Pauline Anna Strom - Spatial Spectre
4. Skee Mask - VLI
5. Modern Heads - Elemento A
6. Palta - At Ville
7. Steve Hauschildt - Stare into Space
8. Vera Dvale & Psykovarius - Taevakehad
9. Dub Tractor - Wow
10. Anton Zap - Fade to What?
11. Steve Moore - Endless Caverns
12. Rhythmic Theory - Machine State
13. Microstoria - Per Formal
14. Sleep D & Albrecht La'Brooy - Sleeping Patterns
15. Heavenly Music Corporation - Cloudless Light
16. Protocol - Waiting

TO LOOK

Max's mixed is paired, fittingly, with the one and only Hito Steyerl, whose work mine both internet history but the history of media, memory, and technology. Factory of the Sun (2015) is literally a film about a fake video game the viewer can't play, as they sit in poolside chairs inside a Tron-like grid. By placing the viewer into "digital" "space" without letting them control it, it's a work—not unlike Max's set—that forces a second, third listen to understand who's in charge of our cultural history, why, and how.

To learn more about Max, head here and here.

To learn more about Hito, buy literally any of her amazing books (NOT on Amazon obv and instead at your local bookstore) or at the minimum read this piece on the defense of the poor image.