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review: Nightmares on Wax – In a Space Outta Sound

March 14, 2006

Nightmares on Wax – In a Space Outta Sound (Warp Records)

It’s been awhile since I listened to anything from DJ Ease. I really caught on to NOW late, around 2000, when they were already established as part of the “trip-hop” sound coming out of Northern England. I dug a few singles here and there, yet I never took to them as I did Portishead, Tricky, and Massive Attack. NOW’s music was too dance oriented. However, while I’ve warmed a bit to danceable electronica, NOW has moved on. In a Space Outta Sound is hardly as lounge-y as the title suggests. The soul and reggae music that Ease claims as his greatest influence is a greater presence on the new record. Though record stores insistence on dividing our choices by genre will cause this disc to fall in the “electronica” bin, this is primarily a soul (dare I say “nu-soul? Lol) record with heavy hip-hop elements. If anything, Ease is more like a modern Barry White (without the singing and basso profundo) than he is like Shadow or the other turntablists making solo records.

The cut “Damn” stands a good chance to be in the running for my top ten song list. It takes a Bhangra riff made popular by recent Ease collaborators De La Soul (from “Ego Trippin”), attaches a melting alto female vocal and whips it into a silky soul song that might scare Prince, were he the type. I almost didn’t listen to the rest of the record for constantly playing this tune.

Hip-Hop heads can just skip to “Pudpots,” a stripped down instrumental with nothing but a drum machine and hot horn samples, that is until after the bridge when the dub kicks in. Underground MCs will be practicing their flows over this shit.

There’s plenty of material for late night scotch and/or weed or cigars, whatever gets you through those chill out moments. Too bad there’s no spot like that around Nashville. Coolout, I’m talking to you!

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