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This review is from: Mind Elevation (Audio CD)
Nightmares on Wax mingles chillout and funk in "Mind Elevation" the fourth official album by this one-man electronic band. As expected, it's blissed and tripped out, with plenty of inventive little flourishes to keep things interesting. The only problem is that it seems to be working too hard to please.
It opens with the terminally mellow "Mind's Eye," a smoothly sweet instrumental that might make you want to make daisy chains and smoke weed. Yep, it really is that chilled-out, even as chillout electronica goes. It's followed by a string of tripped-out, funk-edged songs, which are as sunny and meandering as a summer day.
Things take a sharp turn on "Date With Destiny," where the melody is reined into a more typical pop song, as Chyne B sings about how "time's on your side." She appears on a couple of other songs, the hip-hop "Environment" and the bassline-heavy "Know My Name." She sounds great in the first song, but after awhile her voice grows grating, and the "un-chill" music is alienating.
Fortunately, in the cuts between these songs, Nightmares on Wax (aka George Evelyn) sticks to what it does best: liquid, sunshiny electronic-funk. In these, Evelyn sounds right in his element, whether blending R&B beats with ambient sounds in "Humble," or the chillout techno of "Bleu My Mind." Basically, whenever the music and not the voice is the focus, things go well.
Nightmares on Wax first debuted as a duo, and then shrank to a one-man band, as it incorporated jazz, hip-hop and trip-hop into its sound. And "Mind Elevation" pretty much gives the people what they want and expect: Funky downtempo. This particular one goes a bit more on the side of funk and R&B, while still keeping a foot in the ethereal chillout.
The flaw of "Mind Elevation"? Trying to do too much. It strives to include a stronger dose of soul-funk, while adding in dub, downtempo, stoner electronica, R&B, and a handful of other influences. As a result, it feels like "Mind Elevation" lacks a central "sound," and is trying to cover all the bases and make everyone satisfied. Taken on a song-by-song basis, it fortunately manages to still be pretty strong.
Despite that lack of internal cohesion., the scattered "Mind Elevation" is still an enchanting mixture of beautiful downtempo and funk-R&B beats. A must-listen for fans of inventive chillout.