I first became acquainted with Nightmares On Wax in 1995. I had been a huge fan of Warp Records and was buying the imports since at least 1993 or earlier. That same year, a flood of licensees were bringing Warp releases into the US. It first started with LFO’s landmark ‘Frequencies’ album through NYC label Tommy Boy in 1991 during the Bleep craze and then later through WaxTrax! (which by 1993 was owned by TVT).
What I’d do was constantly be on the lookout from 1993 through 2000 for the US stuff. Warp started having US distribution through Nine Inch Nails’ Nothing imprint in the late 90s and then later, simply released under Warp US.
Well, in 1995, WaxTrax! had been licensing them for two years (starting with the seminal ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series in ’93) and I’d search for Warp releases in the US through our shops in Jax at the time. Kenny Larkin’s ’94 classic LP ‘Azimuth’, Richard H. Kirk’s two albums for Warp in ’93 and ’95 – not to mention The Aphex Twin / AFX / Polygon Window stuff coming out on Wax Trax!, TVT and Sire from ’93 and ’94 simultaneoulsly were touchstones and then… Nightmares On Wax ‘Smoker’s Delight’ (on WaxTrax!). Those WaxTrax! newsletters I’d get in the mail during that time helped too.
Aphex even kept his deal with Sire for quite a few more years (remember 1995’s ‘I Care Beacuse You Do’ and ‘Ventolin’ single, 1997’s ‘Richard D. James Album’ and the following singles ‘Come To Daddy’ and ‘Windowlicker’?) All released in the States.
Not having the typical sleeve designed by The Designer’s Republic but having an awesome title of ‘Smoker’s Delight’, I took the Pepsi challenge and picked it up and was hooked for the next 7 years on NOW, having found back-catalogue during this time and later getting ‘Carboot Soul’. (Really, the first THREE albums, which included ‘A Word Of Science – The First And Final Chapter’ and which has not seen a US release plus a slew of UK only 12’s make up the bulk of George Evelyn’s aka E.A.S.E.’s most groundbreaking work.) I can’t stress how at this time we would search Turtles’s Records & Tapes, Coconuts, and Now Hear This! looking for anything that looked ‘Warp-ish’. (One time I stumbled upon Richard H. Kirk’s classic ‘The Number Of Magic’ and Speedy J’s 2xCD ‘G-Spot + Live’ in Turtles and knowing the sleeve designs, realized they were Warp joints and snagged ’em.)
Of course ‘Smoker’s Delight’ remains the kingpin of all NOW releases.
NOW’s ‘Carboot Soul’ followed shortly after…after the ‘Still Smokin’ 2×12″ remix EP (also incredible) came out in ’96 and I was still hypnotized. Now, Warp is revered but really, retains a memory of it’s former influence. The NOW releases since then have had their half-baked moments (among good ones) though. But those US releases from 1991-2000 converted many headz.
George Evelyn, however, is a true legend. His performance hopefully, will prove that.
See you there.by