Three decades on from the genre’s initial explosion, acid rarely fails to move dancefloors. The label arm of NY clubbing institution the Bunker shines, beacon-like, as a home for fresh acid house. For their next release, ex-LWE writer Justin Cudmore presents the Forget It EP, a collection of four heady club tracks. Its title track is built on a skipping, bubbling groove similar to the rhythms made and played by European house producers such as Binh. These producers take a minimal approach and let the swing of their rhythms build tension, but Cudmore’s tactic of letting an acid lead rip over this sort of percussion gives the end product a welcoming vitality. The drums on “New Jack The House” are in a four-to-the-floor pattern, but a refreshingly organic snare crunch guides it away from the coldness and sterility so many acid tracks are susceptible to. Final track “Moment” takes the vocal loop from “Forget It” and warps it into a more loopy piece of acid techno, providing a fitting bookend to the EP.
There’s a moment in “Hopeful Visions”, the third track on Dream City’s Forward, where the theme that’s been running throughout the track drifts down a semitone. It’s been wavering for a minute but at this point it just slides downwards, drunk on vibes, floating through time. It’s a key point on this Blankstairs release, which comes from the team of S. Deelay and C. Perez. (The latter of whom is behind the Pastel Voids label, which we profiled last year.) It blasts off with a heavy kick on “Down 2”. Large and buoyant piano chords boom outward before being sucked and filtered into a vacuum, pushing and pulling each way as a rubbery bass line gives the track an insistence in the middle of this unsettled chaos. “Palms” is an appropriately balmy cut, slower than “Down 2” and riven with muffled vocal samples, surrounded by a swirling vortex of melodies.
Then we have “Hopeful Visions”. The opening swathe of sound seems a different key to the melody that follows, giving an early sense of the sonic fluidity at play. The track is woozy, unknowable and, most importantly, fun; a freeform wobble to get lost in on the floor. “Forward”, fittingly, ramps up the tempo along with the energy, its light cowbells and unresolved bass lines lending nervous tension. It leads the way for Max McFerren’s muted remix of “Hopeful Visions”, where the already indecipherable vocals featuring somewhere in the mix are confused and distorted further. There’s a digital-only bonus version of “Down 2” from Metropol, an alias of C. Perez, wherein he cranks up the pace and ramps up those keys. It’s a thrilling end to this release, which manages to be timeless and reverent all at once.
Future released EVOL this month a year ago, and Purple Reign the month prior. Both records were released in an environment where his loyals were arguing about the order of Beast Mode, DS2 and 56 Nights in end of year lists and the masses were still reciting What A Time To Be Alive like gospel. A year passed with no sizeable releases from the artist, while many of his contemporaries took more than a little inspiration from him. Addressing this period we thought of as a drought, he tweeted, “I was preparing the feast. U walked away from the table too soon.” Then he dropped two albums in the space of a week.
It’s definitely too early for a full verdict on both FUTURE and HNDRXX. Still, it’s only right to be honest with Sunday’s Best – they’re the only records I really remember listening to this month. So we’ll simply steal a glance at some of the highlights on both.
“Mask Off” and “Feds Did a Sweep” are the most salient moments on FUTURE, both tracks tapping into a certain type of courage. The former concerns facing the moment at hand: “Percocets, molly, Percocets / Mask off, fuck it, mask off,” is the work hard, play hard mantra. The vulnerability aspect of “Mask Off” is emphasised by Metro Boomin’s tenderly introspective, woodwind-led instrumental. Meanwhile the latter track, “Feds Did a Sweep”, closes the album with the bravery of living with the past. Also packing some seriously emotional flute action courtesy of Zaytoven, each assertion, threat and boast is lined with regrets for their necessity. It’s a sobering and unexpectedly unshielded song to close the album with, where empathy for his pain is at its most tangible.
HNDRXX expands upon the melody-heavy direction teased in FUTURE. “Incredible” is full-blown R’n’B, and it’s totally smitten at that. Dre Moon is credited as a producer as well as a writer alongside Future for the song, with previous credits on tracks such as “Royalty” and “Drunk In Love”. His floaty, light and colourfully-toned beat lays the foundation for Future’s most memorably optimistic and hopelessly lovestruck vocal melodies yet. His chorus croon, “In-in-incredible,” is infectious, plus it’s followed by typically Future quotables such as, “The way you move your body, I’ma have a change of plans.” The latter end of the album sees Future harmonise with Rihanna, but before that comes “Turn On Me”, distinct and distant from the mood of “Incredible”. Here, brass samples and shivering pulses soundtrack a more dangerous strain of introspection as the artist reckons with the inevitable disintegration of his relationships. Seeing his prophecy of “I know you gon’ turn on me,” ring true over and over puts you on a direct line right to the feelings department.
As always, a small library opens up in the mind after listening to Future, filled with all the quirky phrases coined by his charming, ever-memorable voice: “Goyard, oh, pick out what you want.” “She comin’ through in the wee, wee hours.” Endless playground taunts of “You ain’t ever never get your bitch back.” We’ve seen Future affirm the flaws and humours of his humanity, the relatability of his pains and achievements, and his sheer superhuman willpower hundreds of times before. On FUTURE and HNDRXX he’s the very same Nayvadius Wilburn: celebrating the good times, celebrating through the bad times, and putting in work at all damn times.
Words by John Hardy, Aidan Hanratty and Tayyab Amin.