The premise of Special Request's third LP of the year sounds like an oblique strategy posed by Mike Banks: "What if Jam & Lewis signed to Metroplex?" The idea is rich with possibility. What might "Technicolor" have sounded like with a Control-era Janet Jackson? Would Juan Atkins have transformed S.O.S. Band's "The Finest" as convincingly as MF Doom? If Offworld began with these sorts of questions in mind, it's ended up as a modern, unsentimental spin on this '80s fantasy—imagine, if someone at Universal Pictures hasn't already, a Back To The Future reboot with a Tesla.
Offworld, not unlike Woolford's last album, Bedroom Tapes, channels the past with a tenderness uncommon in his past work as Special Request. If the combination of earnest emotion and booming production—heard on house records like "Mother & Child" and "Heaven & Earth"—hasn't always seemed like Woolford's natural musical disposition, Offworld illustrates how adaptable he's become. "Offworld Memory 3" poises sweetly melodic keys, reminiscent of Numbers-era SOPHIE, against Jackson's reverb-misted vocals from "The Pleasure Principle" and an acid bassline that kneads the groove down to its bones.
You might also recognise "237,000 Miles"—it samples Midway's "Set It Out," the heart of this Omar-S classic. This is where Offworld's concept takes off. Where Jackson's singing on "Offworld Memory 3" seems afloat and slightly detached, Donald Ray Mitchell's vocal is planted deep inside the track's spirographic synth lines. It sounds like it belongs there. That reminded me of the incredible Hell Interface remix of "Midas Touch," and how its poignant mood supplanted, for me at least, the Midnight Star original. On "237,000 Miles" and "Offworld Memory 3," Woolford sounds no less confident than he did on the rave and gabber tailspins of VORTEX.
|A1||–Special Request (4)||237,000 Miles||4:41|
|A2||–Special Request (4)||Shepperton Moon Landing||5:18|
|B1||–Special Request (4)||Offworld Memory 3||8:03|
|B2||–Special Request (4)||Front Screen Projection||4:33|
|C1||–Special Request (4)||Arse End of the Moon||7:00|
|C2||–Special Request (4)||Morning Ritual||5:52|
|D1||–The Grid||Floatation (SR Offworld Mix)||12:57|