Nightmares on Wax

N.O.W. Is the Time

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Acronymically titled after a track from the 2013 album Feelin' Good, N.O.W. Is the Time anthologizes 25 years of output from Nightmares on Wax, the Warp label's most enduring act. This is an even-handed, roughly two-and-a-half-hour overview of George Evelyn's work with Kevin Harper and Robin Taylor-Firth that draws from all seven Nightmares on Wax albums, from 1991's A Word of Science through Feelin' Good. Each release is represented with either three or four cuts. The only selections that weren't bound to proper albums are the early Warp classics "I'm for Real" and the piano dub of "Set Me Free," along with a live version of "I Am You" that is more powerful than the studio version heard on In a Space Outta Sound. Instead of being sequenced chronologically, the tracks are ordered for flow, with the raw, more energetic earlier material like "Dextrous" (Warp's second release) and "Aftermath" tucked away near the end. Given the roughly equal amount of attention paid to each album, some career highlights -- such as "Case of Funk," regarded well enough to be included on Warp 10+2: The Classics 1989-1992 -- are absent in favor of merely pleasant downtempo material. Evelyn and company quickly moved from rough dancefloor workouts to relaxed, sampledelic syntheses of hip-hop soul, funk, jazz, reggae, and easy listening. That method was more or less maintained until they implemented more live instrumentation in the 2010s. All of it fits together surprisingly well here -- a satisfying, if imperfect, sampling.

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