REVIEW: Special Request – Zero Fucks

Artist: Special Request

Title: Zero Fucks

Label: Self-Released

Release Date: December 30, 2019

Records don’t come much bigger than “Zero Fucks.” Released on the second to last day of the decade, Special Request’s latest offering carries turbulent energy to reflect a world gone mad. As the last of four 2019 releases by Paul Woolford under the Special Request handle, “Zero Fucks” is more unhinged than the rest of them. Gone are the push-pull electro beats and delicate melodies of “Offworld” and “Bedroom Tapes.” Instead, “Zero Fucks” is powered by the furiously resonating warp-speed breaks heard on earlier Woolford tunes like “Vortex 150.” Just take in the power of “Spectral Frequency,” where the drums sound like a lit fuse, counting down to the point of explosion.

Essentially this is a jungle record, and like many jungle records, explosiveness is a key component of songwriting — the swift transition from smooth to rough, from sweet pads to pounding Amens. But something about “Zero Fucks” makes it stand out from the current crop of modern jungle producers who are finding inspiration in the ’94 – ’95 sound. “Zero Fucks” feels digital, pixelated and jagged, unclouded by analog nostalgia. Even though it borrows liberally from the past, repurposing acapellas from Jay-Z and Case, the unstable energy of “Zero Fucks” stares wide-eyed at the present rather than retreating into the past.

Once you near the end, having been pummeled by break after Amen break, a gauntlet of two-ton bass lines and an odd “Sicko Mode” remix, the record finally takes flight with “Elysian Fields” and “Quiet Storm,” two tracks that bring some melody to the fore as the drums keep pounding away. These days, everyone wants to make music that responds to the endless scroll of unthinkable current events, the feeling of sliding into fascism or hurdling toward climate catastrophe. With “Zero Fucks,” Woolford may have cracked the code by plunging his listeners deep into chaos before showing them the light.

-Joe Rihn

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