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de-VICE #1

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Spaced-out Nightmares On Wax is hip - - not a trip

Andrez Bergen / Special to The Daily Yomiuri / 9 March 2006

George Evelyn is as adamant as he's ever been. "A lot of people have forgotten what hip-hop is all about," he asserts over the telephone from Britain. "More than anything else, it's a lifestyle thing - and I'll always be a b-boy."

For this break-boy it's been a solid 15 years since his first Nightmares On Wax album - A Word Of Science - and Evelyn is first to admit that age can play havoc with lifestyle preferences.

"Unfortunately these days I can only break-dance when I'm drunk," he says. "And I've found myself out there on the dance floor, suddenly realizing, 'Shit, that hurt!'"

While his physical reflexes may be a trifle long in the tooth, Evelyn's internal creative mechanism isn't - proof of which he's just unveiled with the fifth Nightmares On Wax album released by respected label Warp.

On first impressions, In A Space Outta Time utilizes the same road map as Evelyn's earlier opus Carboot Soul (1999). As on that album, the intro track ("Passion") is more orchestral and cinematic in scale; as before, it's the fifth track that's the killer number that virtually blows everything else out of the water ("Finer" on Carboot Soul, "Damn!" here). Having said that, the other material is far from just flotsam or jetsam. Even the weaker tracks - "Flip Ya Lid" and "African Pirates" - would be gold doubloons in a swag of contemporary releases.

While there are more innovative artists out there reconfiguring the hip-hop ethic, Evelyn has found a niche he more than comfortably fills.

There is in fact a N.O.W. album sandwiched between this latest one and Carboot Soul - the low-key Mind Elevation (2002). But even Evelyn himself sees more of a relationship between his new baby and Carboot Soul, and is a shade dismissive of the intermediary one.

"[In A Space Outta Time] is a deeper album, and I think I'm a lot more focused. I'm definitely a lot more satisfied this time around. I kind of wonder where I was emotionally on Mind Elevation."

Some sticklers will have you believe that Smoker's Delight (1995) was the landmark N.O.W. long-player, and everything since mere pretenders - including Carboot Soul.

"It's funny, isn't it?" Evelyn muses. "Some people found us through Smoker's, and some people started the journey through Carboot. With most people I guess there's a sentimental connection to do with the moment they discovered the record. I've had people come up to me and say that Smoker's Delight was the soundtrack to their life backpacking across South America, you know what I mean?"

For Evelyn himself, Carboot Soul seems to have had the most visceral impact.

"That was the moment I suddenly realized I could sample my own musicians and take everything so much further; the moment when I could combine my knowledge as a deejay with that of having a band."

In A Space Outta Sound is a logical extension, then, of this personal development. While Carboot Soul was the album on which he graduated from deejay tricks and found his musical feet, this time around it seems he wants to show he's learned how to walk.

And while it may be an easier-listening album, don't call it trip-hop. Shortly after its release some people arraigned Smoker's Delight as the blueprint for that now-defunct stoner lounge muzak genre and touted it at the time as a possible heir to hip-hop itself. In Evelyn's mind, however, there was a huge chasm between the two.

"Well, I've talked about it before - I've never attached myself to that style," he says with regard to trip-hop. "I full-heartedly refer to hip-hop, and I think everything I do is an extension of that - hip-hop."



"In A Space Outta Time" is out now on Beat Records in Japan.


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