Smooth and layered Chillout music from Nightmares on Wax
It always kind of cracks me up when one guy making music gives himself a band name. Like Joe Magistro going by Prophet Omega, Jean-Richard Smith calling himself 1000 Dead Rock Stars, or Black Metal band Burzum being comprised solely of Varg Vikernes. If you’re Keller Williams and you’re going to play a solo show (he is fantastic at this, by the way), why not just call yourself Keller Williams? Well, no harm done, I suppose, and maybe they figure they can more easily hire other dudes to play a live show (though guys like Marc Broussard, David Byrne, and others seem to do fine with a band using only their name).
That is not to say I’m against the one-man band. I already wrote about Prophet Omega and with the technology that’s been available for years there’s no reason one guy can’t put out a great album. This is the case with Smokers Delight by Nightmares on Wax, a creation of George Evelyn , A.K.A. DJ EASE (Experimental Sample Expert). The formula for nearly all the tracks is to start with a very simple groove — often percussion and bass — and then layer stuff on top of it for several minutes. Simple, yes. But he really has a great ear and mixes the samples with a lot of skill. Give a listen to these 5 tracks, which I ripped to my iPod.
- Nights Introlude – Featuring a sample of Quincy Jones’ cover of Summer in the City, this is quintessential Chillout music: light keyboards noodling around in a smooth, percussion-driven groove with occasional vocals thrown in to keep things interesting. This one builds very slowly, taking fully 3 minutes to incorporate all the elements.
- Dreddoverboard – Maybe the percussion is the reason the title references dreads. Maybe it has to do with whom he sampled. Not sure. I like the way the trumpet and vocals are laid overtop of the percussion and keyboards.
- Pipes Honour – My favorite track on the disc. Nine minutes long and not a moment of it gets boring. He picks an absolutely phat guitar riff to establish the base of the song and over the next 7 ½ minutes, he phases trippy vocals, dreamy keyboards, and various other effects in and out.
- What I’m Feelin’ (Good) – George Evelyn is a talented DJ. He manages to make a cool and evocative track out of just a handful of building blocks: a little bass, bongos, and synthesized strings. Then he layers in a dash of vocals, some electric piano and vibes. The whole thing builds prettily and achieves a really nice feel by the end of the track.
- Rise – This is a variation on the groove from What I’m Feelin’ repeated over and over with some layered keyboards, etc. That sounds monotonous, but the keyboard riff is so pleasant and the percussion is so easy-going it works.
Fun fact: Evelyn worked with De La Soul in their 2000 comeback. Smoker’s Delight was released in 1995 and Nightmares on Wax has released 6 more albums since then. If you like this stuff, you would do well to check out any of his other releases, all of which drip with nice chilly grooves and often features a variety of guest vocalists.
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