After the success of Newbuild within the new Acid House based EDM scene, 808 State were not going to stop. They unleashed this album, and although this is technically not an official album of theirs and is not on Spotify (YouTube has it though), it is a very important release musically and historically, which means it needs to be listened to and reviewed here. Let’s see if the men behind 808 State were still up to scratch after Newbuild.
We kick off with the legendary Pacific State which is a truly awesome piece of music. Beginning with ambient sounds and birds, a really beautiful saxophone then enters which sounds really romantic. This is enough to bring tears of joy to your eyes. Some 808 beats then enter, which sound really nicely done. Some further melodies enter, and this piece gets underway. You can easily hear why this piece was the group’s biggest ever hit, it is top notch. It is both danceable and listenable at home with headphones on, depending on your scenario. Not only is it musically accomplished, it is very moving. A nice structured layout exists in this track, and the incorporated sounds, from the pummeling beats and electronic sounds to the tropical birds are truly impressive, especially for 1989. There are a multitude of sections here, not just the same thing over and over again, either. Imagine yourself in the coastal areas of the Sunshine State of either Florida in the USA or Queensland, Australia, and you have a great scenario for this piece. It is a rather progressive piece of musicality as well, which suits this track perfectly. It has an ambient ending, with super delayed bird sounds and incredible pitch shifting to finish off this track. A legendary piece of music, and a must listen.
Next is 106 which begins with some Acid House style melodies and intelligent textures, which have a load of delay on them. This is very much like a musical intermission, but is very important on the album. Good to hear, although it is very short.
State Ritual is more straightforward, with good basic beats and a flute melody in it. Before long, it goes into a super dark funky groove that is fantastic. It is a more dancefloor based piece. It sounds very 1980s, but in a decent way. Funkalicious, this piece is really what is needed to continue the flow of the album. A brilliant mesh of flute, bass sounds and semi-psychedelic textures, this was the future that presides in the past. There is an eerie PiL style keyboard patch in the middle. Noticeably this is more of a get-up-and-dance piece than a piece for serious listening, but still sounds great. An excellent piece of music with warped melodies, it could go on for ten minutes with no problem. But it is shorter than that. There are some backwards textures to break up the madness, before going straight back into the tune. Towards the end the keyboard patch re-enters, before tom-tom beats build up towards the ending. Excellent tune, another good listen. At the end some good pitch shifting and extra melodies conclude this dancefloor staple.
Disco State begins with Acid House sounds and bongo beats. If you pay attention to history, you will by now know that House music and EDM originated from DJ remixed Disco. In some ways, this is a homage to that tradition. Mind you, it is still very 808 State with killer melodies, funky basslines and a very natural musical progression. Some ethereal synth lines then come along, and we have quite a decent listen throughout. It is not a dull or overly repetitive piece of music, unlike most EDM and Electronic Music. A genuine product of artistry and Electronic mastering, this recording and track are both fantastic. Halfway through, it has a Disco like breakdown, before powering along as per usual. This is where EDM really began evolving into an intelligent and artistic style of music. 808 State – true pioneers in this respect. Another very good tune and an inspiring listen. It has a trippy fade out with some Disco style sounds in it, before segueing into the next song. Magical.
Next is Fire Cracker which has some string sounds and a weird vocal sample. The intro is fairly repetitive, but then a very good Acid House styled piece enters. This is really cool and interesting, some more ethereal style sounds enter, followed by distorted hand clap sounds. You would think from the title of this track that it would be particularly eastern sounding, but it is not. Some dramatic drop-of-a-hat changes are here, such as the timpani styled metallic sounding drums in the middle of the track. It is a very good listen, and although Newbuild is always going to be the scene setter (and in some ways, their best album), this is 808 State continuing their Rave journey through melody, rhythm, space and time. In other words, this is a superb effort for a track and album. It has a random outro with a semi-electronic drum roll sort of piece, but is wonderfully made. Another great piece.
Following is State To State which begins with a great vocal sample, before the same melody from earlier in the album emerges, along with your typical 808 style beats. Considering the technology of the time (the internet didn’t even exist formally back then), this is an original and excellent effort. It has a deep bassline match with bongos, spacey crystal sound keyboard patch melodies and an excellent sense that these guys were kickstarting a musical revolution at the time, and much like Daft Punk later on, had done their Homework. In the middle, a Techno/Acid set of melodies enter and the deep basslines becomes more prominent. The sounds here are so good that many other EDM artists afterwards no doubt were inspired (and likely ripped off) the sounds here. It is a little repetitive this particular track, but no so much that you will get bored or lose interest. An interesting listen, this is a Rave classic all the way to the end. Fresh, inspired, and a little funky, 808 State prove their worth. There are some cool horn sounds that are atonal at the end here, fading out the track gently.
Let Yourself Go (303 Mix) begins with some impressive bongo beats and some dramatic string melodies that slowly enter. It sounds like it could have come from a movie, but is more danceable than that sort of thing. It quickly goes into a really divine Acid House sort of track that is awesome and impressive. This is a standout on this album, and just sounds as good and fun as it is groovy. This is a really great piece of retro and EDM glory, it sounds unique and fresh. There are some interesting melodies and Roland style rhythms in the midsection that propel the piece further. A very iconic and interesting sounding piece, this is very good to hear. The Acid House sounding liquid patch re-enters and we have an intricate piece of music. Ahead of their time in the musical world, 808 State have done a marvelous job here. The piece becomes more minimal towards the end, but maintains the grooviness with some basic beats and textures with some sharp Acid sounds to finish. Great stuff.
Deepville begins with some odd Acid House noises, laughter and pitch shifting expertise. This piece is pretty weird to hear, to be fair. It adds some Latin style beats and other sound effects. A very odd sounding piece, especially for the time. It isn’t as good as what came before, it seems rather freaky and out of place on this record. It’s not terrible, just very un-808 State and sounds a bit like a bad drug use experience set to record. Points go here for effort though, although this cut definitely seems out of place here. Good, but not great though. In the midsection, the beats becoming quite prominent, adding a sense of layered and interesting sound work. Some cool hand claps then enter. The percussion is then drawn back in the second half for the melodies and wordless vocal harmonies to come through. The Acid House Roland 303 patch continues in the background, with the weird sounds reoccurring. An oddity on this record, but still not trash. It goes more subdued towards the end, eventually fading out.
Up next is Got It Huh which begins with an awesome vocal sample and some New Order style beats, before going into a badass sounding piece that is very 1980s. There are beeps, string patch sounds and a great amount of digital mouthwatering ear candy here. This is a more laidback tune really, but is still very good and a nice effort by 808 State. Being a decent track on this album, it flows a lot better than the track before it. There is a great sense that 808 State were carving out new musical territory here, as opposed to much of the postmodern mainstream music of today. Some excellent vocal samples are here, and although they are a little random, it suits the track nicely. Another solid piece by 808 State.
Following is Techclock which has some interesting bell like sounds throughout to begin with. It then has some nice synth vocal parts added, which are cool. An Acid House patch then enters, and we get underway here. This piece is actually a bit like Techno and Acid House music mixed together in a relatively short three minute listen. Interesting, and a nice addition to this album. A short and sweet mixture of sound for your pleasure.
In Yolk comes next. It begins with some warm sounding textures, and is very much like Ambient Music. It has some minor key melodies slowly played throughout. This could have easily influenced Radiohead in their electronic experimentation phase. It’s good, although there are no beats here. Some unusual sounds are on this track, it is definitely different to everything else on this record. Warped science fiction sounds enter from time to time, this is a rather strange sounding track. It is very mellow, and just a little bit different. A good example of what being open minded and musically consistent is. If you want to meditate to Electronic music, this is your track. An artistic and electronic triumph. A little long, but not anything overly Progressive Rock/Progressive EDM length in nature. It fades out with a single melody played at the end, before ending with a little bit of bass sound to it. Good, although a bit long.
State Ritual Scam begins, sounding like a remix of the earlier track. It is a very good remix, and if anything, this album could have been a dynamic Acid House concept album with variety to it. It probably is. Regardless, good to hear a funky, lively remix of the earlier similarly named track on this album. Some new sounds, such as the 808 bell are added here. A very animated and colourful listen, made more for dancing than home listening. Midway through are some suspenseful sounds that are movie sort of sounds, before going back into the funky, danceable piece. Also note that the music on this album is rather psychedelic in nature, which suited the then underground Rave movement perfectly, of which that movement was able to be done in those days. A really interesting section emerges towards the end, and the piece continues nicely right up to the finish, where it gently fades out.
The very last track on this record is Let Yourself Go (D50 Mix) which begins with some basic beats and melodies. Some excellent vocal samples are here, before a Roland TB-303 vibe enters with a bassline. It is a good listen, with some proto Dr. Dre string samples throughout. There is no doubt that 808 State changed the way music was perceived at the time. This is, like every other track here, legendary. The beats and textures are solid and fantastic here, this is a more minimal sort of piece. Some liquid Acid House sounds then enter, which are instantly awesome and amazingly made here. Melodic and catchy, this is a great piece of music. Beautiful, interesting and tasty, a nice finish to a great record. It builds up to an interesting finish with the track’s textures sounding awesome. It finishes with a strange melody, and a good fade out.
808 State made an extraordinary release here, and did so, crafting an original and specific album that was not only well recognised historically, but boundary pushing and a great listen to this day. Unfortunately, aside from YouTube, this is not easy to find. However, this listening experience is really excellent. The album cover says it all, it is an amazing listen.
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