- Esme Bennett
Shape the Future by Nightmares on Wax
Hailing from Leeds, producer, DJ and ‘spiritual conductor’ George Evelyn shows us once again that we really can ‘Shape the Future’ with the past.
Nearly thirty years after under their very first release under their very first label, Nightmares on Wax’s collates all the distinct sounds from the N.O.W catalogue, infused with dub, hip hop and down-tempo grooves. With a recognition of the diverse fan base that shapes N.O.W’s identity, it comes with no surprise the sounds that shape the album promote the warmth of both familiarity and surprise. Evelyn himself dissects the undercurrent theme of the album in an interview with Marko Kutlesa as “waking up to the realisation of your relationship to the reality you’re living in”, and the album certainly has a philosophic musing to it.
Both new and old collaborators have shaped this crowd-pleasing record. One of them is London based Mozez, who has been touring with N.O.W for five years, and also contributed to the downbeat 'Feelin' Good' an album which also contained much of the orchestral sampling that ‘Shape the Future’ blends together.
Spoken word is heard a number of times throughout the record, specifically on ‘Tenor Fly’, which features as a kind of ode to the late British MC. The powerful opening track ‘Back to Nature’ encourages a universal consciousness, with vocals from Kuauhtli Vasquez and Wixarika Tribe. ‘Shape the Future’ has a distinctly trip-hop smoky vibe, while ‘Gotta Smile’s climactic guitar paints on another layer to the disparate array of genres.
'Deep Shadows’ and ‘Typical’ feature vocals from Sadie Walker and the soulful Jordan Rakei, and could be seen as the albums most commercial tracks, but it by no means diminishes their quality. ‘Typical’ is a sunny track, with Rakei’s vocals carrying it into splendour, while ‘Deep Shadows’, a cover of Michigan soul legend Little Ann’s original track, brings the listener into a rhythmic full-circle.
The album never fails to disappoint, with both crowd-pleasers and timeless energy making this an instant classic.