Review: Paul Woolford – Orbit (Hotflush)

I only discovered The Black Dogs’ ace and massively missed Little Detroit forums a couple of years before it came to its end. It was a brilliant place, existing in the delicate balance between stupidity and learning that is the hallmark of all the best places on the internet. What really made it so special was that its denizens were always more than ready to shunt you in the direction of fresh sounds. I have Little Detroit to thank for turning me on to producers like Inigo Kennedy, 65d Mavericks and a host of other lunatics.

Paul Woolford too, was one of the artists who came with a heady recommendation, which was surprising because Woolford might be a lot of things as an artists, but creator of searing contemporary techno ain’t one of them. Regardless of that, I fell on the recommendation and sucked at a bunch of his records until not even the marrow remained. I blasted out tunes like Bareback and 5meO on repeat play, loving the way they sounded like classic house rebuilt for the far future, replete with frazzled melodies, shimmying drums and high wire strings.

Woolford hasn’t done a lot under his own name for a year or two, preferring instead to work on his equally excellent and ballsier Special Request project – and if anyone just maybe wants to give me a copy of his Vapour/Mindwash EP I’ll be perfectly happy to take it off your hands. But it’s still the work as Paul Woolford that has drawn the most praise, and justly so.

Orbit is a big sounding record, and one that is full of nods to old UK house as it was when it was still The Enemy Of The State. It’s dark, shadowy even, but with many moments of colour that suddenly flood the music with life, like strobes coming to life. Orbit itself is marginally the weaker of the two tracks. A thrusting, analogue builder, the kick all but reduced to a pop to make room for the vast rumble of the bass the mayhem it brings is to be found in the crazed fog of percussion that hangs over everything else. It propels the tune one way and then another, ratcheting up the drama during the occasional breakdowns.

It’s the B-side, though. MDMA is an absolute belter, make no mistake. True old school UK house, flecked with acidic rudeness, sparkling with massive piano breaks and vocal snips that couldn’t be more 89 if they came in dungarees and a stupid hat. It pumps along, a joyous riot of hands in the air NRG, almost ruining you for anything sensible when the clarion bass farts out. I don’t often want to go to clubs anymore, but I want to hear this on the biggest sound system my ears and bowels can take. None of that Funktion 1 rubbish either; I’m talking about some traveller sound system monstrosity with about thirty speaker cabinets lashed together with the string they usually tie their dogs up with, and a hollow-cheeked speed casualty dancing along side them, his hearing gone forever but still getting off on the bass.

Paul Woolford as Paul Woolford has been a long time coming back. It’s been worth the wait, though. Especially with MDMA kicking it hard. Sorted.