Nightmares on Wax celebrate 25 years by releasing greatest hits boxset - with unheard tracks.
One of cult label, Warp's first signings, Nightmares on Wax celebrate a quarter of a decade of bring New York influenced B Boy hip hop, dub, funk and soul to UK audiences with greatest hits boxset N.O.W Is The Time, featuring brand new tracks and remixes - released 16 June.
NOW have been a festival staple for as long as I can remember. Being on the forefront of music's underbelly and pushing the boundaries of the British music scene. Signed to Warp, alongside Aphex Twin, Four Tet and Squarepusher, NOW has always stood up to contemporaries with innovation and high-voltage tunes that get any dance floor going. Stalwarts NOW, aka George Evelyn aka DJ E.A.S.E, pioneered movements in music like trip-hop and worked with Roots Manuva and De La Soul on classic album Carboot Soul and Smokers Delight. He's of damn fine pedigree and it's only right that his music is celebrated with a greatest hits compilation and vinyl boxset (for all you proper DJs out there). The 14-track album kicks off with a 6 minute, JD Twitch Optimo remix of Dextruous. Hailing from debut album A Word of Science: The First and Final Chapter, it's a fantastic opening to the album and immediately gets you in the mood for a party. It's classic NOW and it's 90s acid-house-cum-electronica is glorious. And it's only fair that a tribute album should open with an updated version of one of NOW's first tracks. This flows into a Morgan Geist remix of Biofeedback which comes for the same album. In another 6 minute track, it's simplicity was on the verge of losing me until half way through when a killer 90s bass rips through the track, reminiscent of early Prodigy. Third track, the Loco Dice remix of A Case of Funk is a beautifully ambient and bonkers song. There's so many layers to this, that it's difficult to keep up. And again, a fab job on keeping the 90s nostalgia while remixing this. Aftermath is the forth and final track that comes from A Word of Science. This has a darker edge and more of dated feel to this. I think more could've been done to this to bring it bang up-to-date. It needed edge or penetrating bassline or something. Seventh track Burn Me Slow featuring OC is what I'm talking about. (I think) it's new material. And it's old-school hip hop at its best. It could comfortably and valiantly stand up against Pharcyde or Jurassic 5. And speaking of old-school hip hop, next track Keep On features legends De La Soul. This is brilliant and perfect to listen to on a scorching hot day (like today) with a beer and loads of friends of friends. It's classic De La Soul, with a smidge of NOW. Gambia Via Vagator Beach is the first track that comes from critically-acclaimed (and probably the most famous) album, Smokers Delight... Must. Ignore. Lack. Of. Apostrophe. It's remixed by Mr Scruff and you can tell. It opens with tribal drums and immediately goes into the multi-layered, multi-sonic jazzy rhythms associated with Mr Scruff. Tenth track, Survival Dub, is another new track from NOW. It's a mixture of Brand New Heavies meets Bonobo. Contemporary jazz fusing with ambient, uplifting trip hop. I love this. Anything that mixes two of my favourite music genres can't really go wrong in my eyes... er, ears. Hiyaself cracks it up to the sort of electronica trip hop that NOW is more famous for. It's a dark, atmospheric track that gets your head bopping. Da Mess Sticks fuses so many types of music set to a background of vinyl crackling, which despite being digital still gives it a warmer sound. There are funky trumpets and ethnic bongos perfect for an Ibiza sunset. A Hungry Ghost remix of Da Feelin is taking it back to B Boy and a track that wouldn't be out of place with Grand Masterflash or Herbie Hancock's Rockit. And there were synth moments that took me back to The Mighty Boosh's Mod Wolf song. The final track, Now Is The Time. A track that featured on 2013 album Feelin' Good album. Bring this odyssey to the present day with NOW most recent album and the title track to this anniversary album. It's a track that's steeped in reggae with a trip hop beat and strings. It's a brilliant conclusion to what should be the soundtrack to the summer. "Dance" music has lost it's way recently. The charts have become saturated with derivative tracks from one-hit wonders whose roots are firmly in the dance explosion of the 90s. It's normally a way for the mainstream to get away from wan, indie boys churning out the same self-deprecating/angry music and there it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that dance music itself becomes repetitive and boring. This album proves that you can incorporate, fuse and remix lots of different genres with astonishing results. NOW prove that you can straddle the two camps of the dance kids and the guitar loyal. He's created a genre that appeals to both. And it opens their minds to other genres of music like world, hip hop, trip hop, funk and electronica. Now, if only he could something similar with the Middle-East we'd be one step closer to world peace.
If you're having a BBQ or drinks round a camp fire this summer, this album's for you. It's got everything you need to create that perfect atmosphere. And I guarantee
you will be able to please all of the people, all of the time. Well, as far as music is concerned anyway. 8 out of 10