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!K7 Records

Special Request – DJ-Kicks

$48.00

!K7 Records

Special Request – DJ-Kicks

$48.00

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Paul Woolford sets the bar high. Like Babe Ruth calling his home run shot, in 2019 he took to Twitter to let fans know he'd put out four Special Request albums in one year. And then he did it, ending with the appropriately titled Zero Fucks. Naturally, he's applied this psycho dog ethic to his DJ-Kicks mix. His stated goal was to deliver a set that slots in alongside legendary entries like Claude Young's landmark 1996 entry.

 

From his vocal house team-ups with Diplo to the blistering jungle tracks he makes as Special Request—the retro hardcore alias that's taken over his life—Woolford comes up with a concept, then tailors his work to suit. (For Offworld, he wondered what would happen if Jam & Lewis signed to Metroplex.) As such, we'd be wise to keep his own description of his DJ-Kicks mix in mind: "I always saw the series as a benchmark of quality and a time-stamped gateway into an artist's state of mind," he writes in the press release. "For this volume, I wanted to focus on lush melodics. I kept that as a constant thread throughout, choosing only records I cherish... it's not a 'current snapshot' by any means, more of a chronicle of some of my all-time favourites."

 

Simon Reynolds' hardcore continuum essays for The Wire, the seminal theory of UK dance music developments from acid house to jungle and garage, contained exactly one reference to disco. But Special Request's DJ-Kicks moves from disco to house and melodic techno to hardcore and jungle, revealing the roots of his current sound. In the first segment, he revels in lush strings, Patrick Adams-style synths and lithe, soul-style musicianship. The admiration for these dance music building blocks is both explicit—the mix launches into motion with John Morales' timeless M+M remix of Alicia Myers—and implicit. Listen to the clear parallel between Morgan Geist's "Lullaby" and Special Request's own "Vellichor" a few tracks later.

 

In his DJ-Kicks, Woolford plays some of his favourite tracks of all time, in the process revealing the DNA buried deep within his own productions. Following Symbols & Instruments' spacey '90s house cut "Mood (Tropical Dream Revisited)," Woolford drops LS1 Housing Authority's "Life Moves Fast," presumably a new alias of his own. The ethereal pads on both tracks bear a striking resemblance to each other. Similarly, the ahead-of-its-time bassline on Virgo's "R U Hot Enough," from 1985, could have easily served as a building block for a track off Belief System.

 

However, marveling over previously obscured influences feels like a somewhat pedantic way to enjoy this mix. That Morales Alicia Myers mix? It's the best opening track in recent memory. A fair share of listeners will be checking this mix for jungle and hardcore exclusives, and Woolford comes correct with a bag full of VIP versions, including a hoover-laden remix of FC Kahuna's 2002 trip-hop track, "Hayling," and two Tim Reaper VIPs of tracks off Zero Fucks. (The "Pull Up" VIP nearly improves on the fantastic original.) Sandwiched between these neo-breakbeat anthems is a Sonar's Ghost VIP of another extremely valuable track: 4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse's "Drowning In Her." From Kirk Degiorgio to AceMo, this mix is anachronistic, mixing the past and the present until they blur together.

 

There's an obvious emotional component to boshing on your favourite records. Woolford, a Loiner who takes a workman's approach to his prolific output, would almost certainly wince at the following comparison. But as a whole, his DJ-Kicks—prismatic and somewhat subdued—is enjoyable as dance music history, a peek into a prolific artist's hidden influences and, of course, a dance mix with impeccable flow that's also suitable for headphones. In the way that the Mona Lisa meets your eye from every angle, Special Request's DJ-Kicks works on nearly every conceivable level. – Resident Advisor

Label: !K7 Records – K7394LP

Series: DJ-Kicks

Format: 2 x Vinyl, 12", Compilation

Country: Europe

Released: 19 Mar 2021

Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul

Style: Disco, House, Techno, Breakbeat, Drum n Bass