About Special Request
One of several aliases used by Paul Woolford (aka Bobby Peru, Hip Therapist, Wooly, and Skip Donahue), Special Request was inspired by the breakbeat techno, drum'n'bass, and other underground dance music forms the DJ and producer encountered on pirate radio stations in his native U.K. In 2012, Woolford initiated a label of the same name with a trio of 12" releases, one of which featured a remix from Kassem Mosse and Mix Mup. While some of the tracks were more straightforward techno, others included choppy jungle breaks and rave synths, and were much harder-edged. After another single on Special Request and the Hardcore EP on Fabric's Houndstooth division, Woolford released the Soul Music album in October 2013. The CD and digital editions added material from the singles, as well as Woolford's Special Request remixes for Tessela and Lana Del Rey.
In 2014, Houndstooth released HTH vs HTH, a split 12" that featured Special Request and Akkord remixing each other's tracks. In 2015, Special Request signed to XL (a label responsible for releasing many of the classic breakbeat techno tracks that Woolford took inspiration from) and released a series of three Modern Warfare EPs. A remix EP (including two takes by Shed's similarly styled Head High alias) followed in 2016. Back on Houndstooth, Special Request's speed garage-inspired single "Transmission" was released later in the year. In 2017, he mixed the 91st volume of the Fabriclive series. In addition to a wide variety of electro, techno, and jungle tracks, the mix included several new Special Request productions, some of which were released (in unmixed form) on Woolford's Stairfoot Lane Bunker EP. A few months later, Woolford dropped the first track, "Adel Crag Microdot," from his second Special Request full-length album, Belief System. Released once again through Houndstooth, the album featured no less than 23 tracks that had been recorded over a three-year period. Belief System also saw Woolford stretching his musical footprint by combining soundtrack-inspired atmospherics and field recordings with his now-trademark heavyweight breaks. An EP titled Curtain Twitcher, built around one of the album's tracks and including a Peder Mannerfelt remix, appeared around the same time.
In 2019 Woolford announced that he had planned to release four albums throughout the course of the year; the first was Vortex, released in May. The hard and heavy club record, consisting entirely of "bowel-evacuating bangers," twisted his typical breakbeat hardcore sounds into some of the harshest, most amusical forms possible. The second was Bedroom Tapes, a collection of early tracks that he rediscovered on cassette during a move but didn't release until June 2019. The album featured a taste of Woolford's softer side, tracing a line through the left-field vibes of the '90s to some of the floaty, understated strains of late-2010s house. Offworld (October) was simply described by the question "What if Jam & Lewis signed to Metroplex?" Finally, at the end of the year, he self-released the hardest of them all, Zero Fucks. In 2020, R&S issued Spectral Frequency, an EP centered around the album's most well-received track. ~ Andy Kellman & Paul Simpson