Houndstooth was something of a runaway success last year, storming out of the blocks with quick succession of releases. The aim of the game for Houndstooth is seemingly to push genuinely original music from a variety of (mostly new and up-and-coming) acts.
Saying that, one of the core reasons for the success of the label to date is not attributable to a fresh-faced newcomer - instead, it's down to an absolute veteran, Paul Woolford, who since late 2012 has found a new lease of life operating under the Special Request guise. But you already knew that, right? Woolford's foray into jungle-revivalism has been heavily documented, and rightly so.
Joining Special Request on this release is an act that we'd attribute much of Houndstooth's early success to - Akkord. With the hype Special Request's album, 'Soul Music', received, the debut self-titled LP from these Mancunians slipped under the radar slightly. The group recently produced a FACT mix and it's really worth your time if you're looking for boundary-bending electronic sounds that defy genre conventions. First time we heard the mix we were taken aback by its individuality. This latest Houndstooth release carries through with this notion, executed with a slick nonchalance I've not seen for some time.
The two tracks found here are taken from a larger seven-tracker, with the limited vinyl pressing looking to concentrate on the talents of Akkord and Special Request alone. The 'HTH vs HTH' concept pits the production processes of Houndstooth's artists against one another. Firstly, Woolford takes on Akkord's 'Destruction'; it's a grizzly, booming, fire-and-brimstone assault on the original, ice-cold amens and deadly bassline rhythms pulse and squirm their way through a drum track that's equally as heavy. What makes this effort so visceral and so potent is the way Woolford warps and bends the breakbeat framework Special Request tracks generally work within. The track isn't full-on jungle nostalgia, it's a subtle and simple nod to the era, with the result sounding both fresh and hard-hitting in equal measure.
The flipside is a role-reversal, as Akkord battle with the stems of Special Request's 'Lockjaw'. The group's razor-sharp approach to sound design is in full effect here. Clattering drums and stuttered pads are the primary elements for the first half of the track, before the entire thing opens up, making way for a more comprehensive percussionary attack that's all stainless steel and titanium. Sonic minimalism done right and done effectively, the simplistic power of Akkord's work is pretty tricky to define in words alone.
HTH vs HTH - Special Request & Akkord [Houndstooth]
Go take a listen for yourself and grab the 12" at Juno.