Sunday 24 June 2012

A Very Warped History 15: 2008 (2 Of 2)

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Last post was the final Squarepusher album of the series, this one's the last Nightmares On Wax one. And it's a biggie let me tell you. Like I said on that Felix post a few weeks back, I love me an album with a story behind it, and Thought So... has probably one of the best examples of it in my collection. The ENTIRE album was recorded while the wax man moved from our shared hometown of Leeds to a villa on the sunny isles of Ibiza. Now that's all well and good by itself as a concept for an album, there's a lot of tracks here with funky acoustics because of where they were recorded. But there's a video of it taken by the man himself that also serves as a preview of the album! get a load of it. glorious accents and all. So before we dive in have a gander at this mini documentary to get you in the mood for this LP, you can find the first part HERE along with a bunch of other NoW's videos. Really, go watch it

With that out of the way, let's get to the meat of this LP. Nightmares has never been one to disappoint on intros, and Thought So... is no different right from the get go the new feel, an evolution and mixture of both In A Space Outta Sound and Mind Elevation is showcased along with the trademark NoW funk. I said way back when doing Smoker's Delight that it was a very social album, but I think Thought So might top it in terms of social listening, thanks to the road trip the whole album has a real social atmosphere present within the tracks, and that oozes out into the room when you play it.

The Wax man doesn't put vocals to his tracks a whole bunch, but this time there's plenty to go around and they're damn fine to boot. My description of it being like a clash of his last two albums rings true, as you've got the beats from In A Space Outta Sound combined with the vocal slant of Mind Elevation. Speaking of which, The social aspect of the album continues here, with Ricky Ranking laying down some catchy bars reminiscent of an MC at a soundsystem, all tied together with Nightmares' excellent production.

Mr. Evelyn says he was brought up on a steady diet of soul and early R&B, and the influences show on his choice in samples. This track however, is like his own way of giving back to the scenes that influenced him. The styles are fairly easy to spot throughout, and there's even a sax solo chucked in there for good measure. This track is also notable because it features the first of a few little excerpts from the road trip on the end scattered across the album. This one's Nightmares and some other bloke talking about a 'little black book' he was given.

At the risk of putting too many callbacks in this overview, this track reminds me of the swelling orchestral intro Les Nuits that was the sublime introduction to Carboot Soul. It's not long before it ventures back into hip hop territory though, rolling beats punctuated sparsely by a little bit of guitar, capturing that island feel. I was absolutely sold on this track by that point anyway, but then the intro fades back in and carries the song for another couple of minutes before the final fade. Lovely stuff.

As we approach the finish, the instrumentals become more and more frequent, kicking off with Pretty Dark, a track that stole the show for me early on when listening to this LP, purely because of the little electric guitar flourishes at 56 seconds in. The song knows it too, after their initial appearance, you're teased with snippets of them until their final, dramatic return at 3:25.

Nightmares makes another callback, this time to a more reggae style beat. it's unlike anything NoW has ever made before save maybe African Pirates and for that alone it's worth a listen, just to see how NoW interprets and then mixes up his own little reggae/dub ditty, and it is a cracking listen. I'm a big fan of the title too, punctuation doesn't get used in track titles so much these days, and they give a nice feel-good vibe like the one present throughout the whole thing.

And finally, what cemented my love for this album. I said way back on Smokers Delight that Me + You was one of my favourite tracks ever, it has a great bassline, amazingly well done sample and is jut generally well produced, it was a shame it was only 54 seconds long. Now, imagine my surprise when I play this track. I'm thinking "oh cool, a nice little ambient outro" but then the beats and oddly familiar bass hit. And I think I recognise those piano snippets too. And then, at 1:52 exactly, my suspicions were confirmed. The break allowed me to get a good listen of that sample. And there it was. Nightmares On Wax had sampled his own track, one of my favourites no less, and made an entirely new song out of it. I couldn't help but smile. I think it samples bits from his other albums too, hence the title, but I can't confirm any outside of Me + You. Not that it matters as Nightmares really really hit out of the park with this one.

And that wraps this up! Nightmares is working on a new album, and has been since late last year, you can see snippets of him working on it on his youtube channel i linked in the intro. Rest assured as soon as there's word about a release, you'll hear about it a soon as I do. Until then, enjoy all his contributions to the Warp catalogue. Until next time.

The Feelin' Is Real,
- Claude Van Foxbat.

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