Nightmares On Wax - Carboot Soul (2LP)
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Four years on from Smoker's Delight and, fortunately, little has changed for George Evelyn's Nightmares on Wax project. While he could've easily been forgiven for following the nu-beat crowd and inserting a few prescient big beats into the blunted trip-hop formula, it's all clear from the opener, "Les Nuits" (a NoW theme of sorts, repeated from Smoker's Delight), that at hand is a return to form, not a turn away from the trip-hop style that took such a beating during the late '90s. The lazy-day soul samples driving tracks like "Morse" and "Finer" are perfect examples that instrumental hip-hop doesn't have to resort to the usual producer's bag of tricks to make for music leagues beyond the average. There's also a focus here lacking from previous material; fewer interludes make for a more concentrated listening experience. All in all, Carboot Soul is one of the best arguments yet for the continuing development of trip-hop beyond mere coffee table fare.