808 State - 90 - Review
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critics' view

Graham Massey and Martin Price – plus, for a while, Gerald Simpson, who left early on to produce as A Guy Called Gerald – had already recorded a couple of long players by the time 808:90 dropped, right at the close of ’89 (portentous, them?). Not many figures in British dance had even issued one at this point. It’s fair to say that 808 State made acid house, and subsequent mutations of the form, a legit album genre, 808:90 being the breakthrough release that cemented this. If most dance doyens had to destroy the band’s whole output save for one track, they’d surely spare ‘Pacific’, a number ten single in the UK. It’s 808 State’s only TUNE that has become truly canonical in dance culture – but it warrants it. There is some avian jabbering, so-wrong-it’s-right jazz sax and a bassline that’s like Chicago house guzzling creatine.

For an outfit not widely recognised as pushing boundaries in terms of fierceness, they give it some tangible welly at times: ‘808080808’’s bassline was about as hard as it got outside Phuture. ‘Cobra Bora’ scrubs circuits in an unquestionably acidic way, with Balearic melodiousness sustaining the bliss; coupled with the deformed funk bassline, you could peg this as a formative influence on Squarepusher. The bonus CD, and this counts for each of the other three, is mostly inessential listening, although its mix of ‘Donkey Doctor’ is superior. If you’re itching to spring for one 808 State album, get 808:90.

Noel Gardner
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Drowned in Sound, sometimes abbreviated to DiS, is a UK-based music webzine financed by artist management company Silentway. Founded by editor Sean Adams, the site features reviews, news, interviews, and discussion forums.
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