Sound of N.O.W.
April 18, 2000
On Wax bring the soul back to hip hop. While the groups 1991
debut A Word Of Science buried mainman George Evelyns influences
beneath a bleeping MIDI interface, 1995s breakthrough Smokers
Delight had little to do with techno; its a hip hop chill
out album, with a classic soul flourish. On Carboot Soul,
George continued to take the sounds of soul innovators to
new sound plateaus.
Weaned by his family on soul staples Quincy Jones and Curtis
Mayfield, George continued his musical education when the
first wave of hip hop hit with tracks like "Rappers Delight"
and "Buffalo Gals." George joined a local breakdance crew,
where he forged an alliance with fellow b-boy Kevin Harper,
forming Nightmares On Wax. They released the "Dexterous" single
in 1990, but what caused a stir was their Top 40 UK hit "Aftermath."
The track signaled the presence of "Northern Bleep," a homebrewed,
Northeast digital-break sound underlined with solid hip hop
beats. This technique can be found on 1991s A Word Of Science:
The First And Final Chapter.
After four years of co-running The Headz Club in Leeds, amassing
samples, and rethinking his approach to music, George returned
without Keith on 1995s slo-mo, soulistic LP Smokers Delight.
By then, George was up front about his musical inspirations.
Each track nonchalantly sojourns down crisp Philly Soul production,
pulsating ho-down medleys, heavy Barry White pant tones, and
nerve-shivering chord shimmers. Its laid-back tone came from
George hearing KLFs "Chill Out" record and applying the concept
to hip hop.
Carboot Soul marked a major change for NOW in their use of
live musicians. George is now joined onstage by a guitarist,
bassist, keyboardist, singer and rapper. It is all part of
his plan for NOW to operate like a band rather than a studio
act. In spite of this, the drum machine still remains.
George elaborates, "Doing the live side proves there is more
to the music. People have something more tangible to relate
the music to and it gives us the chance to connect with the
audience. The main priority for NOW is to prove that we can
perform music, but were not ignoring the fact that we come
from a studio, technical background. We just want to mix the
old with the new. Thats why, at the moment, I dont have
a live drummer. The sound of the beats is what makes Nightmares."
The title Carboot Soul commemorates the time George would
hunt for dusty 12"s and albums in car boot sales. Its another
indication that NOWs true sound was there from the beginning;
all theyve done is come full circle. George has a realistic
outlook about the way his music is developing:
"Todays music is inspired by whatever has gone on before.
Thats what fascinates me. Soul music is the earliest form
of hip hop. Thats why I want to create it. It might seem
like recreating what was done in the past, but what I want
to do is merge soul and hip hop together. Thats why Ill
bring in the live aspect of what happened back then into current
hip hop trends. Thats the angle Im arriving at."
April 20, 1999
Its been four years since Nightmares On Waxs American
debut, Smokers Delight (released on Warp/Wax Trax/TVT). The
passage of time may have obscured just what a stunner this
release was. The elements had been there from the beginning
with the early singles and import-only A Word of Science
LP. . . Detroit techno blips, deft sampling, hip hop
breaks. . . Smokers Delight saw NoW pitch the
groove down a bit and weave an intricate soulful tapestry,
adding an expansive depth to the music.
back, you can hear the early strains of what became the much-lauded
musical movement centered around the Mo Wax label...
which makes sense, considering that their groundbreaking Headz
compilation (whose title shares the name of the Leeds club
NoW called homebase in the early 90s) included a NoW track,
on loan from the Sheffield-based Warp label.
three years of hard work, Nightmares on Wax has delivered
a fitting sucessor in Carboot Soul, released on
Warp in the U.K. The new album reflects mainman George Evelyns
incorporation of full lineup of musicians and voalists to
aid him in bringing his creations to life. Elements of reggae
and dub have crept out from behind the basslines and beats
for a more obvious presence, but the familiar influences remain
intact. A pleasant surprise for longtime NoW fans is the third
album appearance of the darly foreboding Nights Introlude,
a constantly evolving instrumental masterpiece.