808 State Album Review: 90 808 State: 90
Album Review
808 State Album Review: 90 Q Classic
March 2006
Page: 136

808 STATE 90
ZTT, 1989

Dance benchmark from north-west rave's answer to Detroit techno.

808 State's second album fused surgically manipulated samples with unassailable grooves to fashion a record that can still send aficionados into Proustian reveries about the second summer of love. Acid-house credentials it may have, but 90 is a good deal more substantial than a one-dimensional, smiley-faced ecstasy high. A record of subtle electronic textures as much as slamming house beats, it boasts Pacific 202, a UK dancefloor anthem of truly Kraftwerkian proportions.

[Reviewer: DS]

808 State Album Review: Utd State 90 The Heights (Boston, USA)
Volume LXXI
Number 27
10th December 1990
Page: 25

808 State/90 (Tommy Boy/ ZTT)

Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses may have the upper hand in the Manchester scene, but housemasters 808 State still remain as the hippest Mancunians around. Skeptics should try playing the jazzy "Pacific 202" without dancing - no easy task.

[Reviewer: Rich Williams]

808 State Album Review: Utd State 90 The Los Angeles Times
18th November 1990
Page: 62

808 State's "90" (Tommy Boy)

808 State Album Review: 90

Part of Manchester's high-energy dance-rock contingent, this techno-con-scious outfit deals in such a streamlined version of post-Kraftwerk synthesizer grooves that it can easily be mistaken for a seamless, new-age band if the album is played too softly. But pump up the volume in a club or on your own system and the music - with clever world-beat samples, frequent wit and silky allure - becomes as stylish and engulfing as the best of Soul II Soul, one of last year's freshman class members.

[Reviewer: Robert Hilburn]

808 State Album Review: Utd State 90 St Louis Post-Dispatch
17th August 1990
Page: 78

808 State

Not since the experimental heyday of Kraftwerk has an instrumental dance music album been so fully fleshed out as this. 808 State is leading a British craze for bands from Manchester that may differ in style but share a basic psychedelic bent.

Like Kraftwerk, the members of this four-piece band are masters of synthesized dance music. They pepper their album with some sampled singing, but for the most part, "Utd. State 90" is driven by bubbling, gurgling synths and high-energy beats.

At first, the LP might seem a bit too monotonous - as many house music albums can be - yet the band has an amazing ability to keep your attention, whether you're on the dance floor or using the record as background music. There's an innate sense of rhythm that's as winning as the cheery melodies they employ.

[Reviewer: Mark Glaser]

  The New York Times
29th July 1990

808 State's "United State 90" (Tommy Boy 1033; all three formats),

The clear standout among Manchester's electronic bands is the primarily instrumental 808 State. Most of its songs use the deep, piston rhythms of house music and top them with Manchester's most imaginative sonic vocabulary - not just electronic plinks and zingers, but cool pop-jazz melodies, exotic-sounding bells and flutes and layer upon layer of riffs and cross-rhythms, floating and stomping. Where the other bands dress psychedelic and play disco, 808 State combines them into an aural fantasy that can survive if it's removed from the dance floor.

[Reviewer: JON PARELES]

808 State Album Review: Utd State 90 Billboard
30th June 1990
Page: 78

Utd. State 90
PRODUCERS: 808 State
Tommy Boy 1033

Exceptionally produced instrumental set by Manchester, U.K., quartet educates Americans to a house music trend that has already enthralled club punters back home: Programmable snatches of bass'n'beats with futuristic new age and jazz intonations. Ambient "Pacific 202" has paved the way here, with its soothing sax lines. Hypnotic, body-invading "Boneyween" should be required spinning, as should be the intoxicating acid vibe "Cobra Bora."

808 State Album Review: Utd State 90 The Los Angeles Times
24th June 1990
Page: 62

808 State's "Utd. State 90" (Tommy Boy)

If the Stone Roses are the most promising rockers in Manchester's high-energy, dance-rock uprising, this tech-no-conscious outfit stands as the most invigorating sample of the city's dance-crazed element. For traditionalists, think of "90" as a classy, hyperactive update of Kraftwerk, while modernists may prefer to view "90" as the album that Soul II Soul should have made after last year's silky "Keep on Movin'."

[Reviewer: Robert Hilburn]

808 State Album Review: 90 The Sydney Morning Herald
8th May 1990
Page: 16

808 State: 90 (ZTT WEA 246461)

State 808's refreshing Pacific turns out to be the weakest track on their splendid debut album, which approximates to acid house constructed by Joe Zawinul and Kraftwerk. I'd lay money on these Northern Englanders having studied mid-period Weather Report - the exotic rhythms and attention to detail give their tracks a head appeal missing from the average dance record.


808 State Album Review: 90 Tempo
Number 2/90
February 1990
Page: 104

Ninety (WEA)

Das Debütalbum von 808 State aus Manchester ist ein Superlativ: Keine hirnlosere, sinnentleertere und unmusikalischere Platte, kein klingender Scheißhaufen wurde in der englischen Poppresse jemals mit vergleichbarer Emphase angebetet. Besonders andächtig zeigte sich der Londoner „New Musical Express". Devot kürte er 808 State zur innovativsten Band der neuen britischen Tanzmusik.

Das Ergebnis der Kampagne ist absehbar: Heerscharen von kaufwilligen Vollidioten werden „Ninety" aus den Plattenregalen zerren, eine Armada von tauben DJs wird die dümmliche Rille rauf und runternudeln. Und auch wir werden unsere Ohren nicht ganz verschließen können: Selbst in den 90er Jahren verfolgen uns noch die Verfehlungen der späten 80er Jahre. Die House-Music-Szene ist doch noch nicht tot. Jammerschade.

[Reviewer: Otmar Jenner]

808 State Album Review: Utd State 90 Billboard
21st January 1990
Page: 33

Let's take a look this week at some imports gracing our turntable as of late. U.K. techno outfit 808 State has signed with ZTT Records through WEA and has unleashed a savory long -playing morsel called "Ninety." Those who have been grooving to the hot single "Pacific State" for the last few months will find solace in a number of the album's offerings. Primarily instrumental with snippets of vocals and /or samples thrown in, the eight-track "Ninety" is an endearing melange of ideas first encountered with acid, techno, and new beat but with a refreshing, almost new-age-type edge. "Ancodia" is a fave sporting the chorus hook from Thelma Houston's "You Used To Hold Me So Tight," as are "808080808" and the lush, somewhat serene "Sunrise." An alternative version of "Pacific State," called "Pacific 202," is also included. Look for a 12-inch of "Pacific State" to surface shortly on
Tommy Boy.

808 State Album Review: 90 Blitz
Issue 85
January 1990
Page: 38

808 State

Not so 808 STATE'S Ninety (ZZT). Named after a machine, this is a group of young men who have taken the process of record production beyond the realms of the train-spotter and into a new world where sound is all. It's eons above/beyond the notion of sampling as pleasure-in-recognition or pleasure-in-hipness, and one is given few grounding 'hooks' or elements serving as grid references. Post-house, I should imagine.

[Reviewer: Andy Darling]

808 State Album Review: 90 Record Mirror
16th December 1989
Page: 38
808 STATE '90'
(ZTT ZTT2, via WEA)

Also continuously flowing, more or less, and largely instrumental, but far more creative than the Adamski set that might be seen as its rival, this destined to be massive Manchester album has the 'Hustle' flavoured fiercely throbbing and thrashing Terry Riley-ish synth sizzled 120¼bpm 'Cobra bora', remorselessly driven twittery gurgling and thumping 0-11658-0bpm '808080808', "L-O-V-E, love" spelling juddery dated electro hip hop-type scratching 107bpm 'Ancodia' (beware the false finish then abrupt segue), glum girl muttered tinkling twittery burbling 120¼-0bpm 'Magical Dream', frantically skittering 13523-0bpm 'Donkey doctor', already familiar fast though still atmospheric 'new age house' (0-128¼-0bpm) 'Pacific 202', and gradually unfurled atmospheric loping tinkly 0-115¼-0bpm 'Sunrise' (a sort of second class 'Pacific State').

[Reviewer: James Hamilton]

808 State Album Review: 90 Record Mirror
9th December 1989
Page: 16
808 STATE '90'

Why? This isn't pop music.

A top 10 hit that owes more to electro-jazz types like Herbie Hancock and Pat Methany than to Big Fun and New Kids On The Block is a rare thing. But the young Mancunian musos have tapped a rich vein just before it rises to the surface and floods the airwaves. 'Pacific' - 'State', '202', '303', '707' and '909' - has collectively turned a nation on to a seriously studious groove that scuppers the lie that the lowest common denominator will reap the highest rewards.

'90' is much more than much more of the same. Eight (oh eight) songs with practically no vocals, except where deemed necessary, and some of the most exciting noises to be heard on a record this side of Kraftwerk. 'Magical Dream' flicks the 'On' switch and is the nearest the album comes to a pop song. From there on in, '90' is a dream-state of skidding acid rhythms punctuated by sparklingly inspired melodies. 'Ancodia' (touted as the next single) lulls you into a cosy slumber, soon brought to an abrupt end by the relentless electro-tirade of 'Cobra Bora', introduced by a bit of Van
McCoy's Seventies disco anthem 'The Hustle'.

'Pacific 202' (everyone's favourite mix) flows swiftly in the stream of things, but is kicked to bits by the aggressive 'Donkey Doctor'. '808080808', 'Sunrise' and 'The Fat Shadow' all live a life of their own and contribute to '90"s breathtaking sweep. This is a record that communicates in all tongues and goes out of its way not to insult your intelligence.

A remarkably mature performance from ones so young. At the risk of being called a boring old muso fart, I'll give it (4.8080808 out of 5)

[Reviewer: Tim Nicholson]
808 State Album Review: 90 Sounds
9th December 1989
Page: ??

'Ninety' (ZTT 246 461-4/CD) ***1/2

808 State Album Review: 90

A SOUNDTRACK for the dispossessed, Add House is symptomatic of a generation united in defeat.

Of course youth culture isn't the same any more, it can't afford to be. Our institutions closed, unions crushed, there's no forum left but the dancefloor and like fools we embrace it. It's positive, we say.

Like f***. Minds garbled with E can't see that we're celebrating an avoidance of real life, wallowing instead in a shallow vision of a nation united by baggy jeans and Kicker boots, marching on Downing Street for the repeal of not the Poll Tax but the licensing laws. Whitehall, so much to answer for.. .

808 State, unintentionally, match the sound to this urban blight. After The Stone Roses' discovery of pukka Sly Stone guitar chords, 808 State's elec-trip jazz-funk teeters perilously close to the indulgent mind rock of Camel or Pierre Moerlen. At times it works, a dense metallic clatter that pulls the best from its machinery. Elsewhere, these avant-noise doodles spiral into abstraction, nailed down by frantic drum patterns that take matters away from the dancefloor and into the ambient zone. 'Magical Dream' and 'Pacific 202' are a sublime fusion of these elements, but the quasi-mystic 'Cobra Bora' reeks of incense and hippy crash pads.

As legend would have it, a well-known chanteuse once spent an inordinate amount of time staring at her hotel wallpaper, claiming to see swastikas hidden in the design. The wall was blank. If we allow the current trend for introspection to run its logical course, we'll be in a similar situation ourselves - arms flailing, heads up our own arses, fighting for our right to party as the last of our civil liberties float skywards. 'Ninety' isn't responsible for these evils, but it's bound to be latched onto by casualties of the New Complacency who don't seem to realise that sometimes hedonism can be a vote in the wrong direction. 808 State deserve better than this, but they have to get the hell out of the route they seem to be plotting to prove it.

[Reviewer: DAMON WISE]

808 State Album Review: 90 Melody Maker
9th December 1989
Page: 34
808 STATE 808:90

808 State Album Review: 90

808 STATE'S music has already been described in these pages as "profoundly superficial". If Sterling Void offered one suitable name for the hollow perfection of House, then 808 State invite another. Their sound is surface deep, a thin film of blips, squiggles, keyboard splashes and instrumental doodles averting the ear from the cavernous hole that lies beneath the glistening exterior. This is only a problem when 808 State fail to make their all-important top layer particularly diverting.

"Pacific State", the hit single, is ambient New Age House that probably owes it existence to Acid, but it isn't especially representative of "808:90". What 808 State have done is to sample, and succumb to the influence of, less obvious sources, thereby giving the impression of "newness". Because they come from Manchester, and given the city's reputation for innovation, it would be easy to hear bold experimentation in every studio-enhanced splutter. Actually, "808:90" is a far less daring avant-dance production than its dazzling facade may lead you to believe.

"Magical Dream" takes Propaganda's radical Eurocision pop, but spoils it by dropping a rap on top about, "A fantasy/Taking over your mind/It will take control/Of your body and soul", the sort of semi-mystical soul hippy gobbledegook that is running rife through dance music at present.

Although the young girl rapper asks us to, "Close our eyes and disappear", the music isn't sufficiently absorbing for total surrender and, as a result, you feel as though you're witness to a trip that you can't get involved in yourself.

"Ancodia" is better, a space-age TV cop soundtrack, Jan Hammer's theme to "Miami Vice" played by astronauts, chattering funk bass and spumy keyboard riffs bubbling under the close harmony vocals borrowed from some early Eighties soul classic. Again, the words exemplify the psychedelic era/acid house crossover that has plagued dance music for the last two years, but the music has more in common with the post-Sly Stone/Norman Whitfield advances made on Stevie Wonder's "Innervisions" LP.

Also excellent is "Cobra Bora", the song that best illustrates 808 State's rivetting, busy energy. Opening like 23 Skidoo, it samples from Van McCoy's bubblegum disco gem from 1975, "The Hustle", after which it slips into more Wonder-fully frothy, effervescent funk motifs, over which a synth pattern goes mad and unravels all over the studio floor. Here, 808 State reveal one of their more unusual sources, one which informs a lot of their work, the progressive rock of the mid-Seventies, specifically the virtuoso guitartronics of the first Utopia album, and the cosmic blizzard of noise captured on Todd Rundgren's "Initiation". This is not journalistic fancy, 808 State frequently namecheck Rundgren, as well as Eno and the Germans, in interviews.

The best moments of "808:90" rediscover long-buried musical forms and apply them to this year's rhythms. At its worst it sees 808 State lost in a maze of convoluted electronic meanderings that offer precious little solace to regular clubgoers.

[Reviewer: PAUL LESTER]

808 State Album Review: 90 NME
9th December 1989
Page: ??

Ninety (ZTT/WEA LP/Cassette/CD)

808 State Album Review: 90

INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, the working title for 'Ninety' was 'F—eries', the latter being a term of endearment that the younger members of the band give to the contingent of ladies who like to provide them with tea and toast in the mornings. Interesting because it belies a crude, scruffy street attitude that the old guard of the music press simply don't understand.

'Ninety' is but the aural tip of a massive, predominantly white, (black kids were always into dancing) working class cultural up thrust that has taken place during the last year. The House-based Equity Culture is, as an underground phenomenon, far bigger and more open-minded than that motley old punk thing ever was.

Most people now go to clubs not to listen to old favourites, but to be blown away by new music they have never heard before. And this is why, as entertainment value, club culture gives people a continuous stream of novel music experiences in a way that no band playing their set list (even the notion of set list shows inflexibility) can ever match at a gig.

Moreover, what fires club culture, turns on ravers, varies from region to region. In Southern England people are more eclectic and willing under the guise of Balearic Beats to groove to anybody from Digital Underground and Happy Mondays to Chris Rea. In Manchester, by contrast, Techno rules everything to such an extent that the city ought to consider twinning with that other capital of the style, Detroit. It's in this context that the sounds arrayed and layered on 'Ninety' are best understood.

Although recorded in six days- the only link between punk and House Of Funners is the belief that anyone can make music and do it fast and cheaply- 'Ninety' sounds as though it could have taken a year to put together such is the eye and ear for detail at work in
the grooves.

From the opening 'Magical Dreams' to the closing 'The Fat Shadow' (named after the girth of the band's manager, Ron) everything is designed via musical repetition and ever more layers of sequencing to hypnotise the listener into a trance dance. In this, the current House Of Fun is somewhat akin in function to ritualistic music as used by tribes the world over to briefly achieve a state of altered consciousness.

Of course, the structures and soundscapes that 808 State operate within have precedents. Among these are the automotive electro streamlines of Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaata's updating of these, and Chicago's subsequent Phuturistic Acid subversion of them.

Although the accent of 808 State may be on rhythmic repetition this doesn't mean that the eight tracks on this album are uniform; far from it, although nearly all are informed by the sharp and incessant edge of Techno House. 'Magical Dreams' begins with a glockenspiel motif which is quickly swamped by a grinding bassline until Fresh Vaness enters to rap-sing about "A fantasy taking over your mind... have no fears just close your eyes and disappear."

But where to? 'Magical Dreams' may be the only cut here with a whole vocal but by exception to the rule it does serve to remind that House music in its instrumental form- unlike rock which via whole lyrics paints a finished picture - is very much interactive with the listener. It conjures mental images in the imagination of the dancer, images which change according to the mood of the music.

As befits champions of relentless Techno, however, there is very little relaxation to be had on 'Ninety'. 808 State are built for heavy duty dancing. Nowhere is this more true than on 'Ancodia', the band's fave which has been resurrected from an earlier incarnation. The cut is very much a funky multi-percussion outing with synths spitting, the DJs scratching, and fragmented vocal samples fading in and out, a dizzying musical vertigo.

'Cobra Bora' subsequently plunges the band into overdrive with brutal discordant sheet keyboard chords being suddenly rocketed skywards on layers of (acidic) synths and breakbeats.

Such is its intensity, 'Cobra Bora' is destined to become a "Mental Mental" fave on a par with 'Strings Of Life'. If it's released as a single it will be right up there with 'Pacific State' (included here in its revamped '202' guise). Even the latter has been transformed from a jazzy, almost cocktail affair into a harder state by inclusion of a new rumbling undercurrent.

"Welcome To Techno City," goes the intro to 'Donkey Doctor' which kick starts Side Two of 'Ninety'. From here through '808080808' the BPMs mount and the music becomes more pugilistic and rudely intrusive with machines fatting huge chunks of layered squall. The album finally sets us down gently into the next decade with the more s-p-a-c-e-d regions of 'Sunrise' and 'The Fat Shadow' with its invocations of exotic tribal cultures.

In terms of its scope, the crew's abilities to take unearthly and unlikely sounds and inventively turn them into memorable music, this album is one of the year's best. It puts the Mancs right up there with their forebears such as Kraftwerk. State of the art and one of the blueprints for the '90s.


[Reviewer: Jack Barron]

  The Guardian
7th December 1989
Page: 25

808 STATE: Ninety (ZTT 240461)

As for contemporary dance styles, the band guaranteed to succeed between now and Christmas are 808 State. For a start they already have a hit single, Pacific State, and what's more they come from Manchester, the city that has deified all its critics by becoming wildly fashionable, thanks to the Stone Roses. Happy Mondays. and the rest. This is music with a function, for (preferably) stoned dancers who will appreciate the gently mesmeric clattering and tinkling synths, the textures, shifts of mood, shuffling rhythms and treated voices. Heard cold over breakfast it is far less exciting.

[Reviewer: Robin Denselow]