Renowned House & Techno brands Emergency Room and Soiree team up to deliver one of the most exciting Brighton shows in recent times, bringing Special Request aka Paul Woolford down to Patterns for a hotly anticipated all night set on the 20th of April.
Not many artists can rise to prominence off the back of one alias and then revolutionise their sound, come back with a new name and overtake the previous one in terms of popularity. It’s not an easy thing to do by any means, but Special Request, aka House maestro Paul Woolford, has pulled it off to critical acclaim. Records like “Chaos”, for instance, out on Eats Everything’s label Edible Records, is a quintessential House record, worlds away from seminal Special Request classics such as the weighty, industrial and break beat inspired “Brainstorm”.
It’s testimony to the producer’s musical pedigree, and also, perhaps more importantly, his refusal to pigeonhole himself into any one musical box. In an age where more and more musicians are focussing absolutely on hitting stratospheric heights in one genre alone, Special Request proves that it really does not have to be the case. Besides, if anything it can only serve to stifle creativity – music made under strict guidelines is rarely as good as art made purely out of the passion of creation.
Following this, the modern music world’s insistence on branding and image can also have a hugely negative impact on the art actually being made. Nowhere is this more evident than in the House world. The Tech-House explosion of a few years ago, for instance, was quickly jumped upon by major labels seeking to make a quick profit from the rising phenomenon. Fast-forward a few years and the quality control has rapidly gone – the tracks are turning profit and have been wholeheartedly accepted into the mainstream. But the music itself? Day by day it becomes exponentially more of a pastiche of itself, no wonder many producers have since turned away from it; it’s lost the soul that brought them to it in the first place.
No such thing has happened with Special Request though; out of all the figureheads in the contemporary dance music scene he has kept one of the lowest profiles out there. The music speaks for itself in the same way as massively respected producers Calibre or Burial – it is, after all, the most important thing. Doing things your own way will often lead to a slow rise to success, it is, after all, why labels are often so eager to package artists up into an alluring parcel, ready to be sold to the wider world. But, as Special Request proves, the gradual, organic rise to prominence will leave you with a much greater and timeless aura of excellence.
It is hard to really pin an exact label on the producer’s sound; it encompasses parts of Techno, Hardcore, Breakbeat and House, whilst also looking to the worlds of Dubstep and Jungle for inspiration. In actuality it is far better to focus on the kind of atmosphere that his music evokes. Steeped in pirate radio sensibilities, it offers a rougher, more industrial take than the music under the Paul Woolford tag. Perhaps the reason for Special Request’s success is this merger between the clean and bouncy House of his first alias, with the raw and untapped energy of the often bass driven UK underground.
A perfect example of this is his VIP of the Tessela track “Hackney Parrot”. It’s an expansive break beat driven and bass fuelled monster of a track that turns dance floors inside out across the world to this day. Five years on from its release and it is an absolutely pivotal track across the vast spectrum of electronic dance music. But here’s the thing, if Mr Woolford wasn’t such an accomplished producer it wouldn’t have nearly as large an effect. It’s hard to create such a raw sounding track, whilst simultaneously making it clean enough to blast outrageously loud out of a club sound system. Just listen to that sub – it’s so heavy it could churn butter.
As more and more ravers look to the underground for inspiration Special Request’s stock has continued to grow. No surprise really, both the music and general atmosphere around him paint the picture of an artist who is resolutely underground. There is no slick marketing strategy, no glossy artist images – he really does embody the spirit of pirate radio that spawned so many now monolithic dance music genres, from Jungle to Grime. It’s wonderful to see him gain more and more plaudits whilst still sticking to his guns. Special Request was one of the recent additions to the Radio 1 residency, for instance. And last year he played a massively hyped old school Jungle closing set at Boomtown b2b with DJ Zinc and Eats Everything.
Aside from his productions he is also, as you might expect, an incredibly accomplished and diverse DJ. A Special Request set will almost always span the full spectrum of underground club music, from Techno to Jungle, all the way through to ancient Hardcore. One look at his Boiler Room X Dekmantel 2018 set confirms this, expertly weaving his way through a multitude of genres, all the while sending the crowd into raptures. To see him play all night long should be on the bucket list of any self-confessed dance music fan – his knowledge is unparalleled and the experience can be an education as well as a highly enjoyable escapade.
So hats off to emerging events brands Soiree and Emergency Room for pulling of one of the most exciting raves Brighton has seen in some time. And there is nowhere better for it in the seaside city than clubbing institution Patterns. Special Request’s set will be complimented perfectly by the sparingly lit basement space, something sure to only amplify the atmosphere. The upstairs also provides a wonderful counterweight with it’s light and airy feel, sound tracked by a more laidback soundtrack of House and Disco. Tickets won’t be around for long, act quick to avoid missing out!
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