Nightmares On Wax – N.O.W Is The Time (album) (Warp)
Alrighty folks, fix your eyes on this.
To mark 25 years of music from Nightmares on Wax, Warp will be releasing a stunning greatest hits collection entitled, N.O.W. IS THE TIME. The standard edition features 28 tracks, while the Box Set includes the 28-tracks from the standard edition, along 2 x vinyl 12″ of unreleased material, new and classic remixes, and a book of memorabilia and interviews.
The influence and impact Nightmares on Wax has had on electronic music cannot be overstated. The man often credited for inventing “chill out”, George ‘E.A.S.E.’ Evelyn, aka Nightmares on Wax came up in the 80s UK B-Boy and graffiti scene in Leeds and Bradford as part of the breakdance crew Solar City Rockers. After cutting some embryonic rave tracks with musical co-conspirator Kevin ‘Boy Wonder’ Harper, the duo signed to Warp and released debut album A Word Of Science, becoming instrumental in the bleep explosion; with tracks such as Dextrous and Aftermath attaining mythical status for a generation of clubbers.
George continued as a solo artist under the Nightmares On Wax moniker, enamored with New York Hip Hop, he was an innovator in merging those sounds and feelings with the popular sounds in the UK at the time to become a pioneer of down tempo hip hop. Releasing classic albums such as Smoker’s Delight and Carboot Soul and working with the likes of De La Soul and Roots Manuva established N.O.W. as one of the definitive purveyors of hip hop, funk, dub and soul.
25 years on his fanbase is still growing, having released his seventh studio album Feelin’ Good last year.
The usual debate amongst music fans regarding “best of” collections and whether they should be chronological doesn’t really apply here. Despite drawing from 25 years of music, the material is so incredibly consistent and is – for the most part – without the usual “leaps” in variance ( spoiler alert: wait for the rave gems at the end), both in terms of style and quality, that a lot of “best of” collections (unavoidably) have.
Opening with the ever-so-smooth You Wish from 2006’s In A Space Outta Sound, the tone is immediately set giving the listeners the first taste of what lays ahead with its soulful collage of vintage organs, trip-hop beats, funky bass lines and, of course, iconic guitar sample of Private Number by Judy Clay and William Bell.
The epic Mind Eye from 2002’s Mind Elevation follows and reminds us of Evelyn’s knack for the funk while three incredible tracks from 1999’s classic Carboot Soul appear here, the first being the gorgeous, lush and atmospheric Argha Noah.
Calling, with its goose bump-inducing string orchestra melody paired with sleek electronica, is included but it’s the brilliant Dreddoverboard that lures listeners to the dancefloor for the first time with its house beats and techno elements, which are then uniquely paired with Caribbean percussion and trumpet. Dreddoverboard is also the first of four tracks from the 1995 classic Smoker’s Delight record – (Man) Tha Journey, Bless My Soul, and Mission Venice being the other tracks.
Other highlights include the combination of whirring, hypnotic synths, funk-bass, and breathy sensual vocals in Thinking of Omara from 2002’s Mind Elevation, and the guitar-driven, retro-funk of the brilliant Be There.
It’s impossible to name every electronic artist or DJ that’s been inspired by the chill-out sounds of Nightmares of Wax but Les Nuits and Morse, both from Carboot Soul and appearing in succession, are clear reminders.
You’d be forgiven if you thought Give Thx was a soul number from the sixties. Lifted from last year’s Feelin’ Good, it too is another brilliant cut.
The reggae grooves of Flip Ya Lid from 2006’s In A Space Outta Sound and 195 Lbs from 2008’s Thought So get Disc 2 moving with style and groove. Continuing with the excellent 70s 80s from Mind Elevation and Be, I Do from last year’s full length, it becomes quickly apparent that Disc 2 may just be the stronger disc, showcasing more of the vocal-driven gems from the Nightmares of Wax catalogue.
You may be hard pressed to find a groovier tune here than Da Feelin – a timeless funk-soul electronica gem and definite compilation highlight alongside the dub grooves of (Man) Tha Journey.
But the real treats are saved for last, including three cuts from the 1991 debut full-length, A Word of Science. Mega Donutz from the aforementioned full length is up first, then Mission Venice from Smoker’s Delight, before leading to the 1989 rave classic – and Warp’s second ever single (WAP 2) – Dextrous, followed by the equally important, Aftermath. As if that’s not enough, it continues the exhilaration with the 1990 single (WAP 6) I’m For Real, before the compilation closes with Nights Interlude, which – of course – famously samples Summer In The City by Quincy Jones, who Evelyn grew up listening to.
What a collection! An absolute must-have for fans and those new to discovering Nightmares on Wax alike.
N.O.W. IS THE TIME will be released on 16 June, 2014 (and 17 June, 2014 in North America).
Tracklist for the Standard Edition is as follows:
01 – You Wish (3:29)
02 – Mind Eye (7:05)
03 – Argha Noah (7:54)
04 – Calling (7:55)
05 – Dreddoverboard (5:48)
06 – Thinking of Omara (5:32)
07 – Be There (5:02)
08 – Les Nuits (6:19)
09 – Morse (6:20)
10 – I Am You (Live in Chicago) (4:09)
11 – Passion (3:25)
12 – Give Thx (3:33)
13 – 195 Lbs (5:35)
14 – 70s 80s (5:30)
15 – Flip Ya Lid (5:24)
16 – Be, I Do (4:47)
17 – (Man) Tha Journey (6:20)
18 – Now Is The Time (3:59)
19 – Bless My Soul (5:56)
20 – Da Feelin (4:41)
21 – African Pirates (6:23)
22 – Mega Donutz (5:12)
23 – Mission Venice (2:50)
24 – Dextrous (4:03)
25 – Aftermath (3:20)
26 – I’m For Real (5:20)
27 – Set Me Free (Piano Dub) (5:03)
28 – Nights Interlude (3:25)
Watch the documentary for N.OW. Is The Time below:
Listen to the Ashley Beedle remix of Now Is The Time below, which appears on the Deep Down Edition boxset: