Album Reviews

Album Review: 808 State – Blueprint (ZTT/Salvo)

By | Published on Friday 2 September 2011

808 State

The title of this retrospective is particularly prescient, since 808 State are true pioneers. It’s hard to recall any other dance album from 1989, let alone one as good as the Manc group’s ‘Ninety’. But that’s not even the start of the story, with the techno and acid sounds of the preceding ‘New Build’ and ‘Quadrastate’ EPs being hugely innovative and influential.

Whereas their last compilation in 1998 was a fairly straightforward ZTT-era Greatest Hits, this collection revisits tracks both pre and post that era, positioning itself as a “Greatest Bits” rather than just the singles. Being just a one CD affair, there’s inevitably plenty of essential stuff absent, but everything present is a masterclass in how to create compelling machine-made music full of character and humanity.

‘Pacific State’ remains an impossibly seminal track but the likes of ‘Nephatiti’ and ‘Plan 9’ prove that they could consistently deliver soulful electronica, whilst elsewhere the collaborations with Bj√∂rk, James Dean Bradfield and Guy Garvey reveal a group with a mindset that stretches far beyond just club culture.

The quotes in the accompanying sleevenotes reveal the high esteem 808 State are held in by their techno peers; quite right too – ‘Blueprint’ amply demonstrates a fearless sonic adventurism with music that has not dated, but actually aged gracefully. MS