Unlike previous Forever South Collections, the Hotcues series is manic, frenzied and relentless. While FXS Collections Vol.3 was a colourful experience, Hotcues occasionally moves into trap territory and, while it sounds massive and exciting, there’s a niggling worry that trap is already somewhat out of date, a rigid percussive genre that is running out of places to go.
Like EDM, trap occasionally falls victim to the drop-worship where, by the end of a track, all you’re left with is a hollowed out shell, where the comments get filled with essentially meme speak – ‘this HARD AF!’, ‘this slaps!’ – which seems to be the final knell for these genres. Just look at ‘Purple Lamborghini’ from the Suicide Squad soundtrack as a prime example of this. EDM died because it had little else to offer besides the fabled drop, which had to keep getting bigger and bigger, ‘slap’ harder, until the shell cracked and drugged ravers would rather go someplace else. Having said that, people were ringing the funeral bells for trap since the TNGHT EP dropped in 2012, and it’s still going.
Thankfully, the Forever South artists never stray into generic festival trap. You can listen to the songs here. Let’s take a look:
With My – Block-2
On ‘With my’, Abdul Moiz Parvez aka Block-2, runs with his hip-hop and trap influences, having bags of fun along the way, going by the many ‘Woo!’ samples that are dotted around. It’s a solid introduction to the Hotcues series, a track that you want to blow out your speakers on. But Parvez is definitely in his comfort zone here – you feel like he could make these massive songs all day.
One of my favourites from Block-2, ‘Spin My Son’, released on the FXS Collections Vol. 3, does away with the big drops entirely and focuses on an incessant guitar plucking away, almost as if to a metronome. It sounds super disconcerting, as though it could be a horror film score. Occasionally the bass blows out, but the guitar keeps plucking away. It’s this atmosphere that you crave with this kind of trap
Revultion – Tollcrane
Revultion is an exercise in restraint and, like much of his output, Talha Asim Wynne prefers the more meticulous approach – an added bass throb here, the removal of the hi hat there, and so on, until the tracks become little mathematical equations of additions and subtractions. It’s only after the calculations that you’ll realise you’ve been bobbing your head the whole time.
Freed – JOFU
Similar to ‘With my’, JOFU crafts a short trap explosion, topped with a sample of A$AP Ferg’s lines from ‘NV’. On ‘Freed’, though, Nawal Tariq is much happier to let the music disintegrate completely, glitching out into a big sonic mess until, by the end of the short track, you’re left feeling disoriented and spun out. It’ll be interesting to see how Tariq does on a full length LP – you can tell by Intervals (Hotcues12) that there are tons of ideas here, but more on that later…
FM4LYF – Friedi
This is a completely relentless track, full of chunky 80’s throwback synth sounds and a pulsing bass that carries the song all the way to the finish line. By the end, you’ll feel bruised and battered. It’s quite startling to hear in comparison to ‘Kymatica’, which was a chilled-out lounge track, almost innocent in its simplicity. Even Linbering, from FXS Vol.2, which was darker in tone, had some moments of calm. FM4LYF, on the other hand, snarls. Faizan Riedinger’s not messing around.
Hammerstix – Dynoman
Haamid Rahim offers us a little drink of water after H05. What Dynoman often does best is take a sugary pop melody and make it sound fresh and exciting. Just listen to the opening of ‘Aqua Clunk’ from FXS Vol3, or even the back end of ‘Moon Struck (for you)’. All poppy melodies but sifted through a filter of interesting percussion and cut up into a less generic structure. ‘Hammerstix’ is similar, albeit darker, addition to Dynoman’s work.
In Time – Eridu
This sounds special. Adeel Tahir melds together trap and elements of r’n’b to create something resembling a trap slowjam. It’s sounds oddly sultry, even though the drums are quick and frantic and the mix churns and groans. But occasionally Tahir pulls back, allowing for a more lounge jazzy feel and, even though such disparate elements shouldn’t work, the track holds together, moving between genres with ease. If there is a future for trap, it maybe in something like this, something more melodic and less rigid.
Railways – Smax
SMAX continues in his style of music that is difficult to grab a hold of – melodies that are nebulous and vague, that appear like fog in the distance. ‘Railways’ is no different and snakes along in a strange dreamlike fashion, never quite staying put. In an interview, Amman Mushtaq mentions offhandedly that he ‘likes static and white noise’, and you can tell. In ‘Railways’, whenever there appears to be an anchoring bass line, or a set rhythm, he’ll take it away, burying it in electronic glitch or with a wave of static. But even though this could be frustrating, the haze ends up being hypnotising.