Release Date 09/17/2013
Nightmares on Wax is an institution, albeit a delightfully different one. The man behind the moniker, George Evelyn, just keeps reinventing, not in a wilful Bowie way, but flowing along, going at whatever speed he fancies to wherever his ideas carry him. For the last seven years he’s lived in an Ibizan farmhouse and, while he’s Warp Records’ longest serving artist – “the granddaddy,” as he puts it – he overwhelmingly focuses on his current projects, letting them revitalize his music.
Perhaps best known in Europe for his ground-breaking ‘90s albums Smokers Delight and Carboot Soul – although in America the cinematic lo-funk of 2006’s In A Space Outta Sound is better known – Evelyn’s pride and joy these days is his four year old underground party on the white island. Wax Da Jam at Las Dalias, Ibiza’s oldest nightclub, 50 this summer, has become a go-to haunt for locals, for promoters and insiders, the place where George explains, “Everyone turns up as individuals but everybody leaves as one.” Here he soundtracks a night of groove, experimentation, percussion and improvisation, alongside guests such as DJ Shadow and Roots Manuva. It’s all fun, though, all for kicks. It’s all about Feelin’ Good, hence the name of his new album.
If that sounds a bit hippy dippy, forget it, Feelin’ Good is zesty with funk, soul, even the throbbing low slung house tune “Tapestry.” In fact all George’s recording career, alongside his contemporary Balearic vision, filter into the genial bounce and contagiousness of his seventh studio outing. “Masterplan” is bracing trip hop soul featuring Californian folk singer Katy Gray, “Now Is The Time” is a squidgy funk assault that George reckons is marinated in Wax Da Jam flavour, “Give Thx” bleeds ‘70s Motown vibes, “Eye (Can’t See)” is a gripping, glitched, Latin groove, the latter pair both featuring ex-Zero 7 singer Moses, while “Om Sweet H(om)e” finds M People percussionist Shovel and George himself revving up to the sounds of chanting Tibetan monks.
It’s an album that’s sonically rich, with orchestration and strings created in Berlin by Jazzanova arranger Sebastian Studnitzky, keyboard by George’s long-term collaborator Robin Taylor-Firth, drums by virtuoso German jazzer Wolfgang Haffner and bass by Paul Powell, who used to be at the heart of Mica Paris’s rhythm section. With tours coming this Autumn, Europe and the US will be able to see these ideas come to fruition. In the meantime, there are the ten tracks of Feelin’ Good, the same number as Carboot Soul, a good omen according to George, a man positively overflowing with good omens. Setting his sights high, as ever, with a cheery, unpretentious sincerity, George Evelyn continues to carry the original flame of acid house and late ‘80s Balearica, pushing it alive’n’kicking into 2013. His new album will surprise many, as bubbly, warm and lively a thing as will be heard all year. Nightmares on Wax are back. Then again, like the underground itself, they never really went away.