Too Much of a Good Thing
Repetition: the foundation of electronica that makes some music fans loathe it as uninspired, as much as others appreciate it as an energy source. Applied frequently (sometimes accurately) to older, faster techno genres, said stereotype normally doesn’t get anywhere near trip-hop, nor near such an established downtempo act as Warp Records vet Nightmares on Wax. Granted, there are solid songs on NOW’s fifth studio album In a Space Outta Sound and even more solid ideas beyond that.Pudpots, the fiercest track here, draws listeners in with brushed drums before pounding out a main rhythm, a siren sample, and trumpet skronk. “Flip Ya Lid” imports a cool 1960s rocksteady vibe, while songs like “Damn” and “I Am You” channel Prince’s sense of arrangement.
The problem is, NOW mastermind George Evelyn seems so enamored with the idea of expansive grooves closely related to rap and soul — think the Brand New Heavies or MF Doom’s backing tracks — that he doesn’t know when to stop. Almost everything on In a Space Outta Sound could use a judicious radio or club edit. As it stands, even the decent sounds here stop being jams and start being repetitive drags when they pass the five-, six-, and seven-minute marks.
Frankly, it would be amazing if you got past early train wrecks like “Passion” and “Flip Ya Lid” in order to hear anything else overstay its welcome. Nightmares on Wax have assembled In a Space Outta Sound like a luxury sedan with an engine that won’t turn over. It’s damn pretty at first blush, but you end up getting nowhere real fast.