Nightmares On Wax — Shout Out! To Freedom… — Album Review

Alternative | Soul | Electronic

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The Leeds-based DJ, producer, and song artist George Evelyn, also known as Nightmares On Wax, was the kind of artist that had been around for a very long time, but also one that I discovered much later on.

Specifically, I discovered Nightmares On Wax through his eight studio album, 2018’s Shape the Future. I specifically remember this being the third album of that year which I had decided to review. But in addition to that, with 2018 being the first year I truly decided to undergo music reviews, you could also say that Shape the Future was the third album I had ever reviewed.

Aside from all of the sentimentality that album had in line with my time as a reviewer, Shape the Future was actually an incredible album by its own merit. I recall placing said album as my third favourite of the entire year. This was thanks to just how vibrant and atmospheric the whole project was, as it truly made for an enjoyable and memorable experience.

With such high praise towards his previous album, I was certainly excited to see what full-length project Nightmares On Wax would put out next. Furthermore, the bar was set pretty damn high. Would Evelyn’s newest project top, or at least match the greatness of his previous effort? That answer arrived with his brand new studio album, 2021’s Shout Out! To Freedom…

I feel that this would be an appropriate time to again address the importance of negative reviews, and how they allow my positive ones to be more genuine, as I found this album to be gravely disappointing.

The first leg of the album? forget about it! In-fact, I actually did forget about it until having to hop on this review. Up until the moment I got to hear Greentea Peng on both a track and an interlude that came before it, I was completely disengaged with Shout Out! To Freedom…

This first third was just way too ambient for its own good. What we essentially got were repetitive, instrumental heavy tracks that got really repetitive, really fast. Admittedly, the third track “Creator SOS” does break away slightly, with the merit of actually having lyrics. However, it still suffers extreme repetitiveness. The whole thing felt like the musical equivalent of drinking soup (as odd of an metaphor that is, but hopefully you get where I’m coming from).

After that first third, however, there a few tracks that did actually engage with me, such as the aforementioned track with Greentea Peng, “Wikid Satellites”, and the one teaser of this album I did hear, “Breathe In”. It was after this point, where the album did try to show a little more of the reminiscence to Shape the Future, but much of it still suffered from being overly drawn out or repetitive.

At least I could say that SOTF ends on a high-point, with the closing track “Up To Us”. This track was arguably the most memorable of the entire list, and felt like something that would’ve worked on Evelyn’s previous masterpiece. It’s just a shame that it serves as a small plaster atop a giant wound.

The most glaring issue with this album was most certainly trying to be overly drawn-out. The fact that the first, and most important part of the project suffered most greatly from this dampened the whole experience ultimately.

If I was to give something constructive, Nightmares on Wax’s tunes really work well when there are lyrics and vocals involved, either from him or featured artists. This was capitalised on with Shape the Future, which is part of why this is 20 times the album that Shout Out! To Freedom… is.

It’s far from the worst album I’ve reviewed this year, and still has its atmospheric merits. But given how much of an amazing project Shape the Future was, this follow-up felt like a far fall from grace.

Favourite Tracks: Breathe In | Up To Us

Least Favourite Tracks: Imagineering | Widyabad

Warp Records

Enjoyment: 6/10 | Memorability: 3/10 | Atmosphere: 7/10

Uniqueness: 6/10 | Satisfaction: 2/10 | Narrative: 5/10

Final Score: 5/10

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.