Mind Elevation
Record label: Warp (UK)
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 3 September 2002

Before there was Tricky, Portishead, or Massive Attack, before there was such a thing as a Bristol sound, before the term "trip-hop" worked its way under our skin, there was the sound of N.O.W. George Evelyn a.k.a. DJ E.A.S.E. has been at the helm of Nightmares On Wax for longer than many of us realize. While Smokers Delight remains a classic among lovers of slow and blunted hip-hop instrumentals, Carboot Soul suggested some rhythmic maturation taking place. Mind Elevation continues N.O.W.'s evolution, more orchestral and full-bodied in its scope. The album opens and closes in classic fashion with "Mind's Eye" and "Thoughts," respectively, both soothing and airy. Once again, hip-hop and dub share space at the center of Evelyn's production, but other elements do creep into the mix. The slight Bollywood feel of "Bleu My Mind" is immediately noticeable. This track along with the bongo heavy "BBH" remind us that E.A.S.E. can whip up some slammin' dance floor cuts when the mood strikes him. As for the vocalists, they come with a sassier attitude this time around, as can be heard on the first single, "Know My Name" and the fun-spirited "Date With Destiny." However, "70s 80s" wins out for best vocal cut, somewhere in between toasting and singing while E.A.S.E. concocts the hip-hop/reggae track to make your head nod on command. Should be interesting to hear how these songs sound live with that 13-piece band that Evelyn's touring with.


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