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21st October 2013

Album: Special Request – Soul Music

Man of the moment Paul Woolford unleashes his debut album as ‘Special Request’
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Released 21st October

Houndstooth

8.5/10

Paul Woolford is currently on a very hot streak. He produced the biggest house anthem of the summer in ‘Untitled’ and has also recently released a string of original-topping remixes of already excellent tracks. Now, on Soul Music, Woolford airs his more formidable side, under his Special Request alias.

The album is deeply nostalgic for the sound of 90s raves, but at no point does it feel like a cheap throwback or a rehashing of the past. The jungle influence is at the forefront of most of the album, but Woolford modernises the material with streamlined production, and by throwing more instrumental flourishes into the mix. Opening track ‘Forbidden’ is driven by an aggressive bass line and crashing drum sounds reminiscent of the 90s era, but is also decorated by a serene harp-like strumming. ‘Undead’ is underpinned by piano chords akin to those heard in many of Paul Woolford’s recent house hits.

However, acting as Special Request gives the producer license to be a lot more boisterous and the rave spirit pervades Soul Music. In fact, it’s inescapable. This is due to features like ‘Soundboy Killer’ and ‘Hackney Parrot (Special Request VIP)’ sampling MCs from such events: “Can you please clear the stage? All you’re doing is jumping the records … so just get off the stage, get in the crowd and have a party”. It’s impressive how Woolford manages to utilise so many aspects related to consuming music in a live setting without them sounding ostentatious or out of place when listening alone in your room. A wheel back embedded into a song? Sure. Gun shots firing over a Lana Del Rey sample? Absolutely. It all fits into the context of this album which captures the hedonistic party atmosphere so excellently.

Indeed, the first time I listened to ‘Hackney Parrot (Special Request VIP)’ a delirious grin spread across my face and the words “so good” involuntarily escaped my lips. This is certainly a piece of music that impacted my soul. With Tessela being another producer presently crafting his productions with the crashing breakbeat sound, it’s unsurprising that a joining of forces between the two is the standout track of the album.

The album is very long, totalling 23 tracks across 2 CDs. However, artists such as Anthony Naples, Kassem Mosse and Anthony Shake Shakir provide remixes that diversify the sound, meaning it doesn’t stagnate.

Soul Music showcases an artist at the top of his game channelling and developing the sound of raves when they were becoming a phenomenon – it’s instantly classic.


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