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CD: 808 State - Transmission Suite | reviews, news & interviews

CD: 808 State - Transmission Suite

CD: 808 State - Transmission Suite

First album in 17 years from Mancunian electronic innovators is an engaging retro-futurist ear-journey

Welcome to conditioning

Prior to the UK dance music explosion of summer 1988, house and techno were American micro-scenes, geographically restricted to Chicago, Detroit and New York. Small coteries showed interest in the UK, but few thought of making the stuff. Mancunian producers 808 State, however, were early adopters, recording an album that year and later charting with iconic 1989 hit “Pacific State”, a futuristic, Balearic instrumental. 30 years on, their seventh album is both forward-looking and a tribute to old analogue technologies.

808 State, once a four-piece, is now the duo of long-term members Graham Massey and DJ-producer Andrew Barker. Transmission Suite is named for the deserted, long-unused studios of defunct broadcasting giant Granada TV, where they recorded it. The experience has flavoured it. 808 State always drew sonic parallels between the techno music of Detroit’s urban desolation and that of Manchester’s, and the best of this album captures the same sense of post-industrial emptiness and unease. Opener “Tokyo Tokyo” is a case in point, an acid roller built around farty machine noises, but it’s at the end of the album they really push the boat out. A quintet of abstruse pieces reside there, brilliantly offbeat and brain-mangling, such as the tweaked out “Pulcenta” which sounds like children’s electronic toys in terminal meltdown. These tunes give Britain’s chief doyen of abstract electronica (and 808 State fan) Aphex Twin a run for his money.

Elsewhere are other sounds, stark techno and electro based on the Detroit blueprint; the Nineties ravey “Trinity”; a belting dancefloor work-out called “Ujala” that comes on like a tribal ceremony for robots. What’s strangely compelling is that, despite 808 State’s production no longer sounding futuristic in the way that, say, an artist like Tony Njoku's does, their work intimates an alternate version of the future based on a very specific version of the past. In doing so, the best of it wanders confidently around a dystopian cityscape that is all its own.

Below: Watch the video for "Tokyo Tokyo" by 808 State

Some of these tunes give Britain’s chief doyen of abstract electronica (and 808 State fan) Aphex Twin a run for his money


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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