Album Review: Special Request’s ‘Belief System’

Words: Iman Athira

In October 2017, Paul Woodford released his second full-length album under the alias Special Request. Released under Fabric’s Houndstooth label, Belief System took over three years to complete, and the result is a nostalgic tribute to the death of rave culture.

This 23-track recount of Woodford’s journey through the rave scene manages to draw the listener into a strangely melancholic realm, despite the disorganized chaos of contradictory sounds that is evoked by each track. Utilizing old-school materials that were dug up from music archives dating back to 1993, the mélange of jungle, breakbeat, acid house and techno all intermix to blur the lines that could be used to categorize Belief System into one definable genre.

Belief System has been described as a combination of “vast layers of atmospheric, unhinged modular work, contact microphone recordings of iceberg cracking, microtonal elements, and the introduction of stark soundtrack pieces.” Admittedly, some tracks on this album can be a shock to the brain if listened to individually. This is one of those albums that must be listened to all at once in order to fully comprehend the narrative that Woodford is attempting to portray; it is a three part story in the form of music that is emphasized by the album’s distinctive track names and structural progressions.

The album opens with “Chrysalis” a light, ambient piece that is the perfect introduction to the next few synth heavy tracks. It’s not until the listener gets to “Curtain Twitcher”, which fleshes open a pulsating bassline countered with serious acid tendencies, that the peak of the album is reached.

Imagine being at an intense warehouse rave crammed full of people, finally peaking to music that makes your mind want to scream. Exactly like that, the pinnacle of Belief System peaks with a conflicting combination of breaks, drum-beats and a whole lot of synth heavy loops. It closes with “In Loving Memory,” a hauntingly beautiful piece that seems to tie together the whole album with a delicate finish.


Special Request
Belief System
Released Date: 13th October 2017
Formats: 4 x Gatefold vinyl / Double CD / Digital

Here is track number 7 from the release:

01. Chrysalis
02. Adel Crag Microdot
03. Catacombs
04. Tiresias
05. Sanctuary
06. Change
07. Curtain Twitcher
08. Scrambled in LS1
09. Make It Real
10. Brainstorm
11. Leviathan
12. Replicant (Nexus 7 VIP)
13. Cheyne Stoking
14. Light In The Darkest Hour
15. Carex Vesicaria
16. Advent
17. Witness
18. Transmission
19. Reckoning
20. Qoriqzona
21. Five Lane Ends
22. Ouroboros
23. In Loving Memory

Belief System is out now through Houndstooth Recordings.