Special Request is the alias for Leeds DJ/producer Paul Woolford’s homage to UK ‘ardkore and Soul Music is an apt for those of us who lived through this sound in the early 90s. Coming as a triple vinyl or CD/digital with extra tracks drawn from his vinyl-only Special Request EPs, Soul Music is all choppy amens and anonymous catchy vocal snippets, that trigger all sorts of long dormant memories.
Over the last few years there’s been quite a slew of early 90s remakes/tributes – Glowstyx’s Class of 92 (and Zomby’s lesser clone Where Were U In 92?) referenced the pop/rave crossover of Altern-8, Lone’s ravetastic Galaxy Gardens, and even Lee Gamble’s Diversions 1994-96 purportedly assembled from the ambient breaks in jungle mixtapes of the period.
But Special Request is more particular, pointing to the early Metalheadz, and moments of LFO, Unique 3, the northern bleep & bass sound, and the roughness of pirate radio. There’s tough kick driven tracks like Cold Blooded and Body Armour that recall Belgian hardcore, but its tracks like Lockjaw that bring it all together nicely with skittering tightly-edited amens, rewinds, ghostly female vocal samples, piano vamps, and hoovers keeping the mood dark. Ride VIP’s filtered mentasms and gunshots are pure 93 whilst Soundboy Killer, Broken Dreams, and especially Deranged speed things up to 94 and hint what would come from the dystopian techstep of No U-Turn.
It is hard for me to hear Soul Music without the (damaged) ears of someone for whom almost every break and sample recalls a particular sound, track, or moment. Back then it sounded like the sound of the future – arguably it never really got better than this – so to hear this reassembled like this with obvious love and care is a treat.
Break out the baggy pants and the Vicks.