Paul Woolford has no fear; this is a man who simultaneously has one of Ibiza’s tunes of the summer and spends his free time experimenting with rave influenced sounds of nineties. Not to mention, he is responsible for one of the noughties’ most pulsating and noise-laden big room tracks, “Erotic Discourse”. Last March he christened his Special Request alias with “Lolita (Warehouse Mix) / Alone” and in the time since he’s consistently reworked the abrasiveness and textures of rave music into warped combinations of breaks and techno as seen through the eyes of a modern producer. Up until now he’s released each record as unassuming stamped 12-inches; his “Hardcore EP” sees him temporarily leave that format behind for Rob Booth’s Houndstooth imprint.
Even with a new home Woolford keeps it simple. “Wall To Wall” is a stripped back track, which like just about every Special Request track, is made to rattle the rickety frame of a warehouse. Its kick drums have the right amount of distortion and crunch while swinging back and forth between a tumbling percussive bass. It falls in between the work of the new breed UK techno stalwarts and those of the old ward. On the same side is a remix by New York wunderkind Anthony Naples. Unlike most of his discography, his vision of “Mindwash” pays homage not house and disco, but early drum and bass. It’s an interesting direction for him and again shows us he more than a house artist. Our only grievance is its length – it clocks in a little past three-minutes. The B-side, “Broken Dreams”, brings the tempo up a bit adding breathy vocal samples, rigid FM stabs, and a host of breaks, which by now are unsurprising, but no less welcomed. Where “Wall To Wall” sounds somewhat traditional “Broken Dreams” is more likely to confuse or at the very least cause a “stop and pause” moment. Closing the record is a remix of “Capsules” by Lee Gamble, another producer that came into his own last year. There wasn’t too much subtlety in “Broken Dreams”, but Gamble’s remix comes down to it. Drawn out and echoing, each sound has a space and character of its own. It’s almost like listening to something organically evolving in the space of six-minutes. Though it’s not technically short, this is another remix that would have benefitted from an extra few minutes. The sparse bass wobbles, light hi-hats, and opening pads feel like they’re only just getting started by the end.
When exactly Woolford’s career began this second upswing is a bit hazy, but we’re not complaining as long he keeps churning out records like these. The “Hardcore EP” brings together some excellent and oft over looked sounds for some of his strongest tracks as Special Request. He also keeps up his tradition of picking top-notch remixers.
Stream: Special Request – Hardcore EP (Houndstooth)
Special Request’s Hardcore EP is available now on Houndstooth.