When you've achieved as much success as anyone in dance music, how do you stay hungry? Paul Woolford had one of his biggest years yet in 2011, with a release on Planet E and a touring schedule taking him all over Europe and beyond. But where plenty would be content to rest on their laurels, Woolford pushed himself forward, opening up a dialog with a younger generation of similarly restless souls: that his best production work of the year, his "Stolen" collaboration with Psycatron, wound up on the eternally restless Hotflush Recordings instead of a more straitlaced big-room label suggests we haven't seen the last iteration of this guy. The latest evolution, Special Request, may just be one stop along this road, but it's a damn special one: pairing veteran chops with youthful energy over two devastating EPs, Woolford has thrown us a rather delectable curveball.
As Special Request, Woolford still makes techno, but he infuses it with restiveness rarely seen outside of Hessle Audio or Hemlock. But on "Lolita (Warehouse Mix)," which kicks off the first EP, the scope of its wildness takes a few minutes to reveal itself. A less experienced producer might turn on its air raid sirens immediately, but Woolford plays his cards closer to his chest, letting the track unfold with the ease of something far less explosive. "Alone" similarly plays with our expectations: bouncing between shifty breakbeats and vocal snippets, it approaches Untold-style heaviness. But instead of building to a peak, Woolford keeps the beat wild and slides it under a string melody made all the more beautiful by the contrast. The second EP opens with a dub mix of "Lolita," which does away with the directness the EP1 version by chipping away at the beat and tossing in new and unexpected dissonances. The B-side, wherein Kassem Mosse & Mix Mup remix "Deflowered" (a track currently unavailable thus far in original form), kicks up a very different sort of hysteria. The duo match Woolford's adventurousness with their own, keeping the beat surprising and the burn awesomely slow.
Tracklist: Special Request - EP 1 & EP 2EP 1
A Lolita (Warehouse Mix)
A Lolita (Dub Mix)
B Deflowered (Kassem Mosse & Mix Mup Remix)