Special Request, Vortex Album Cover
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Special Request VORTEX Houndstooth

Paul Woolford is a generous man. If it wasn’t already apparent from his mission to throw as many free shows for hard-up fans as possible, or set up labels as pressure-free incubators of talent, the release of four albums in 2019 should underscore the point.

VORTEX is a natural extension of how his Special Request alias has satiated dancers’ need for speed in the 2010s. It synergises his strong points of breakbeat barnstormers and house epics, with room for bleep, electro and even gabber in there, too.

Memory Lake is one of the best earworms, a curdled ripper in the vein of 2AM/FM’s Poison Dart or Clark’s Butterfly Prowler. Then there’s Vortex 150, whose canny use of dynamics recall Metalheadz OG Peshay – a lesson in how to careen at speed without inducing motion sickness. That being said, from Levitation onward is a rocket ride that accelerates song by song to a mind-melting 220 BPM. There is an element of piss-taking to this fireworks-exploding finale, but as a finger in the eye to the po-faced, it’s spectacularly good. They don’t call him the Angel of the North for nothing.