reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
The DJ Kicks story continues apace, and continues to choose imaginatively, with no sign of the quality dipping. Stepping up for this release is Paul Woolford, donning his Special Request moniker. As a listener he saw the DJ Kicks series ‘as a benchmark of quality and a time-stamped gateway into an artist’s state of mind’, going on to say that ‘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 a chronicle of some of my all-time favourites.’
What’s the music like?
Given Woolford’s history and pedigree, the idea of sharing in his favourite music is too good to resist – and so it proves. It is no surprise to report a varied set of house and break beat, moving from classic disco-house to full blooded drum and bass, by way of variations in between. The mix is pleasingly rough around the edges in its blending of music, giving it a more authentic feel.
Woolford takes us straight to the heart of the dancefloor with Alicia Myers’ Right Here Right Now, remixed by John Morales, a very cool cut of swooning vocal house, and he backs this up with instrumentals from Harvey and Morgan Geist, complete with trumpet solo. Being such a prolific writer and producer, Woolford can’t resist adding some varied examples of his own canon, so we get KissFM NY87 Mastermix and Vellichor trading riffs and busy percussion while pushing the mix forwards.
Woolford then gives us sun-soaked techno from As One, Virgo (the brilliant synth-heavy R U Hot Enough?) and Ace Mo, complementing them with diverse beats from Krystal Klear, Speedy J, LS1 Housing Authority and μ-Ziq. Bleeps and blips, warm keyboard pads, dynamic percussive runs – all are found in a thrilling sequence of dance music, the direct style of Woolford’s own productions embodied in the music he chooses.
Two of his own remixes form highlights of the later section of the mix, FC Kahuna’s cool Hayling and μ-Ziq’s Twangle Frent, underpinned by a massive, sonorous bass sound. Now the pace is frenetic, with flurries of drums from Galaxian and Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse cutting to a widescreen breakdown powering the Tim Reaper mix of another Special Request production, Pull Up. The two collaborate on another stormer, Elysian Fields, before a final Woolford collaboration wraps up the mix, the shimmering 96 Back co-write Petrichor.
Does it all work?
Very much so. Woolford is well-versed in pleasing his crowd, so the notion of a CD-length DJ Kicks mix comes easily to him. The only difficulty, you sense, was choosing what to leave out of the mix! In 25 tracks we get an excellent history lesson with no preaching, a view behind Woolford’s own creative process.
Is it recommended?
Highly. Special Request is an inspired, stellar addition to the DJ Kicks series, which just keeps on getting better. As a celebration of dance music’s primal power to move, you couldn’t ask for more.