100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #46 Nightmares On Wax – Les Nuits

Released : 1999

Pre millennial tension? Well, despite warnings that every machine on the planet was about to shut down in a few months, by the middle of 1999 we were feeling pretty good; mainstreamed by the likes of Groove Armada and Morcheeba, the sound of the Balearics – a conflation of soul, hip-hop, jazz and deep house – was pumping out of our brand new MP3 players.

Fronted by Leeds-based producer George Evelyn, Nightmares on Wax had come up from the same breakbeat scene as their city compatriots LFO, but their debut album A Word of Science was more sophisticated and less frenetic than many of their Warp label peers and it’s follow up Smokers Delight was a revelation, long on velvet Rhodes and filled with sunset, seventies vibes.

For the follow up Carboot Soul ambitions were greater still; on opener Les Nuits Evelyn worked with a fifty-two piece orchestra, a giant leap from grappling with the DIY sound systems of his youth. It proved no obstacle, as borrowing discretely from Quincy Jones Summer In The City, here was a liquid, organic funk that was in form as going out as it was staying in, sophisticated, but unpretentious with it. We didn’t know what we didn’t know then about the future, but if this was to be the end of time, it couldn’t have sounded much better.

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