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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Nightmares On Wax
In A Space Outta Sound

Rating: 7.8/10 ?

April 14, 2006
For musicians of intricate contexts, many years may pass between releases without any sign of life. For Nightmares On Wax, the last time a listening audience heard anything was in 2002. Since then there have been no formal EPs, no mixes, not even a postcard to let us know how they were.

It's not like we were worried though, as Wax personnel Evelyn and Harper know their way around by now. They are likened to the middle child of the family, the responsible yet wild ones, the ones who set some examples but also aren't afraid to learn from their mistakes. Consider them the Peter Brady of the electronic bunch.

Although the comparison might be damaging to the group's image, it also enables them to rub up against an accessibility element they are rarely associated with. The name itself - Nightmares On Wax (NOW) - prevents some from getting too close, unless they are the angular type, and an electronic-head at that, or if they simply know better. But once enveloped inside the outfit's sound, even stand-offish listeners will realize that they are surrounded with the placid and scenic, the grooving and constructed, and the synthetic and live. Few artists can play that corner so well.

If I had to use one word to describe In A Space Outta Sound, it would be fusion. Not in the typical jazz-fusion sense, but rather a fusion in reference to a seamless interplay of sounds and attitudes. This friend of mine always talks about making music that would be the perfect balance between dissonance and pop, and he uses a tuning knob as the allegorical scale. A 10 on the dial would be 'dissonant as hell' and a 0 would be 'cotton-candy pop.' Borrowing that evaluator can prove useful in assessing Nightmares On Wax's latest, where a 10 would instead represent 'all live instrumentation' and 0 would indicate a song that was 'strictly sampled and synthesized' from foreign sources. Utilizing this makeshift scale, In A Space Outta Sound weighs in at a 4.

Track one ("Passion") is a nu-jazz tune; two ("The Sweetness") a dub/R&B/electronic mixture; four ("Pudpots") breakbeat jigging, swing-section sampling hip-funk tune (similar but hotter than David Holmes); five ("Damn") is a downtempo, dance, gospel choir call-and-response, soulful handclapper; seven ("Deepdown") a world, dance, Latin drum, and African vocal chant song. Throughout many of the songs there are sped-up vocal samples that might remind you of the sample production that has been Kanye's signature.

In my experience, there have been few albums such as In A Space Outta Sound that I have heard within the realm of electronica, where a musical palette was spread so broadly while still managing to sound like part of the same project. Sure, some kid somewhere probably once made a cool song of this caliber with Garageband or Fruity Loops, but it never came out this good, if it came out at all.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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