808 State
Issue 85
Page: 38

The tirelessnes sof Manchester's musical bag of tricks is frightening. New Order and Happy Mondays have become institutions, with a whole new breed ready to provide the thrills. A typical night out at Factory's own Dry bar, The Hacienda or The Thunderdome is filled with the giddy buzz of Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Revenge and, best of all, 808 State.

808 State are, in typically Nineties fashion, named after a piece of studio machinery - the Roland 808 drum machine - but the four-piece consistently transcend mere muso burblings. Having worked together for eight years, the band's DJs, Darren and Andy, were joined eighteen months ago by sometime Biting Tongue Graham Massey and Martin Price, owner of Britain's most influential record shop, Eastern Bloc in Manchester. What the four have in common is an ability not only to conjure up the ghost in the machine, but also to make it wiggle along the most seductive of grooves.

The smash hit single 'Pacific State' is a taster for the band's new ZTT album Ninety, an elegant follow-up to their acid jam NewBuild LP of last year. The more idiotic of critics are labelling it new age house, but in fact it's closer to a kind of lush techno, streamlining influences from Detroit to Wigan Casino into a contemporary classicism. If Art of Noise had acknowledged sensuality, they might have come close to 808.

"I hate the new age house tag," asserts Martin, "and the whole rave thing. I like going to parties, but these things are like festivals. It's going to turn out like Altamont and I don't want to be involved in any of that. We're not just a fad."

Indeed they're not. Ninety presents the band as a Nineties Kraftwerk, actively shaping the increased technology at their disposal without lapsing into complacent dullness.

"You've gotto realize," says Martin, "thatthe whole sampling thing is responsible not justfor great records, but also for crap likeJive Bunny. If you're a boring indie band and you decide to make all your records without 'real' instruments, you're still going to do something boring. It's not about the equipment, it's about how interestingly you want to use it. Personally, I just don't like guitars much."

Ninety was recorded in less than a week and the band are confident that at last they've achieved a balance between initial minimalism and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink indiscrimination. And - the ultimate club compliment - 'Pacific State' remakes are appearing as far afield as Italy. Manchester's unabashed domination of the musical universe continues apace.