Special Request: Hardcore EP

Special Request's (aka Paul Woolford) Hardcore EP, featuring remixes from newcomer Anthony Naples alongside jungle re-constructualist Lee Gamble, varies in tempos and styles, mashing influences together to create a work that will work just as well in the club as it does at home.

Special Request

Hardcore EP

US Release: 2013-07-22
UK Release: 2013-07-22
Label: Houndstooth

Veteran producer Paul Woolford has recorded under a number of different guises in a career spanning back more than a decade. His latest incarnation, and one of the newest signings to the always brilliant Houndstooth Label is that of Special Request – a moniker birthed last year – under which he has already released four EPs, the fifth of which, the Hardcore EP, follows hot on the heels of the labels’ last releases, Margosa Heights by Second Storey and A Small Murmuration by Snow Ghosts. Featuring remixes from newcomer Anthony Naples alongside jungle re-constructualist Lee Gamble, the EP varies in tempos and styles, mashing influences together to create a work that will work just as well in the club as it does at home.

Kicking off the EP is "Wall to Wall" – a banging number that references classic hardcore, whilst bringing the sound up to date with liberal dashings of syncopated vocal stabs and distorted kicks before the pounding house-meets-breaks drum track enters, ready to get the crowd rocking. It’s reminiscent of some of the tracks Pangaea just released on his new Hadal imprint – unsurprising, as that EP also purported itself as a work of hardcore revivalism. The tune is relentless, minimal, and extremely effective and is sure to be utilized as a dancefloor weapon by legions of house DJs eager to up the ante and bring some different angles to their oft dreary, middle of the road sets.

New Yorker Anthony Naples steps up to the plate next remixing the previously released junglalist inspired "Mindwash". Here Naples reconstructs the original around pacey, distorted breakbeats, mellow pad work and an extremely clipped out, mournful vocal sample. The pervasive fuzz, crackle and lo-fi aesthetic that surrounds the track harkens back to the lo-quality, pirate radio waves of London’s influential past, giving the track a sense of nostalgic melancholy – a lovely touch for those who long for a return to the days where speedy breaks and jungle ruled the roost. The track fades to nothing, again serving as a reminder of the halcyon days of British music culture, perhaps suggesting that although gone, the sound of the pioneering early ‘90s still lives strong in the memories of those who experienced it, as Woolford did, first hand. It also perhaps suggests that the love and understanding of the ‘hardcore continuum’ and the UK's musical heritage as a whole, is so strong and intrinsically linked to British culture, that it is passed down through the gene pool, into the DNA of today’s youth – forever to remain relevant – just as instinct and primal fear is passed down through animal genetics.

Stand out track of the EP, the masterful exercise in proto-acid and breakbeat science, "Broken Dreams" – a track that channels mid- to late ‘90s period Aphex Twin almost to a T – is up next exploding into the audio spectrum as soon as it starts. Bubbling, tweaky, reverberated acid lines, combine with hyper-charged, constantly mutating hardcore breaks in a fashion that puts the ubiquitous ‘bass face’, so beloved of drop hungry teenagers, to shame. The only face I could think of pulling when listening to this is one of a dog’s when it puts it head out of a moving car window. You know, all drooly, with tongue and ears flapping in the wind. The manipulation of the breakbeats are, as already implied, masterful, recalling in a credible, non-derivative way the time where Richard D James, Squarepusher, Luke Vibert and the like ruled the roost in the field of credible IDM. The synth sounds are straight out of the Warp Records ‘Artificial Intelligence’ playbook, but are re-imagined and made fresh when combined with the wistful, Burial-esque vocal wailings and ragga vocal samples. It’s a truly magic number that reminds me why I have come to love electronic music so much over the years.

Last up is the remix of "Capsules", a perfect downbeat follow up for "Broken Dreams", by sonic auteur Lee Gamble – a name now synonymous with the destruction and reconstruction, from the ground up, of old school rave and jungle as seen on his superb experimentations for the Pan and Entr’acte labels. The tune is almost six minutes of monochrome, haunting ambiance, tech step bass womps, pitched jungle sine wave/808 stabs and smeared, colorless vocal snippets that are all pulled together by the organic hi-hat work and muted drum tracks that join together to revel in an apparent haze of a post-rave fuzzyness. Its morose, paranoid but uplifting at the same time (much like an ecstasy comedown) serving as great finisher to an extremely varied and complete EP.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.