Born from the desire to create rougher, harder tracks inspired by ’90s rave, Paul Woolford’s productions under his Special Request alias rarely fail to deliver on his premise. Having broken through the club-space with his 2013 VIP of Tessela’s ‘Hackney Parrot’ and its gargantuan bassline, Woolford returns with his second LP, ‘Belief System’, released on Fabric’s Houndstooth imprint.
A marathon 23 tracks composed over three years, the record is one of two halves. The opening is signature Special Request breakbeat, backed by insidiously rumbling bass in tracks like ‘Brainstorm’, ‘Catacombs’, and ‘Make It Real’. It isn’t all rave nostalgia, either, with other numbers like ‘Adel Crag Microdot’, ‘Tiresias’, and ‘Curtain Twitcher’ touching on EBM, industrial techno, and acid synths.
The second half of the record, however, dissipates into an overly-cinematic, jarring ambience on tracks like ‘Qoriqzona’ and ‘Ouroboros’, hinting at a different project entirely. Yet, rather than a monotheistic worship of ’90s culture, Woolford revitalises the hard-edged heaviness that has influenced so many producers today - from Zomby to Lone - and sets it in context, including the spectrum of dance culture, rather than producing pastiche. The result is an LP that displays an encyclopaedic knowledge and understanding of its references, without being reduced to mere reference.
Words: Ammar Kalia
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