808 State Album Review: Don Solaris 808 State: Don Solaris
Album Review
808 State Album Review: Don Solaris Lotus
Volume 2, Issue 12
November 1997
Page: 54

808 STATE Don Solaris
Hypnotic US

808 State have finally released their latest album domestically here in America through the rather eclectic label, Hypnotic. The music on this album is diverse, exploring many formats and styles. This album may upon first listen sound too much like a techno-rock crossover. But I warn you, it is far from that - this music is foremost moody, deep, and full of risks. Challenging, yet never losing its listener, in my mind, this is a great album, completely different and full of life. An ambient piece begins the album, and runs into the industrial and heavy sounds of "Bond.' Vocals are featured on this track, as well as a string bass and harmonica, bell sounds and chimes. A very deep sounding piece. "Bird" and "Azura" throw the listener into a more bass heavy and danceable space. Nice vocal samples and somewhat eerie sounds give "Bird" a very moody feel, while jamming drums assault the mind. Steel drums from the Caribbean soothe the ears, when drum and bass rhythms break in through the serenity, accompanied by the tense and beautiful vocals of Louise Rhodes from Lamb. A bassline ricochets between the steel drums and kick-drum punches, bouncing off the walls and the trees of this far-out hot jungle. 808 State continue their journey into pop dynamics, dance, jazz and electronic breathing with "Black Dartangnon" and "Joyrider." The choice of sounds and subtle use of layers, never overdone, colors the mind wonderfully - bells here, a little guitar flickering there, fading bell circles, billowing horns, and slithering synth-pads. 808 State incorporate every kind of sound into their compositions, using them at will, to mold melodies and belt out feverish jams and airy rhythms. "Lopez" is the heavy but joyful tune on the album. Some might not like this crossover into the rock-bard format, nonetheless, it is a brilliant tune. A bluesy and twisting guitar plays like smoke and mist above the low-end drones, organs, and drums. The soulful voice of James Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers opens the mind and pours in sunshine. Words of the sea and moon, and cycles of life and death, color, light, and darkness, and of course joy, makes this song the perfect tune for a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset. "Balboa" brings in tons of bass, perfect for those who love to feel it coming up from below, or like a wall of sound from speakers. Blistering and wild, yet at a steady tempo,with interesting bass drops - calling all ravers. A pretty melody sits on top of the bass and floats nicely, relieving the tension from the bass attacks. The track evolves into twisting and thundering distortion, with an excellent propelling breakbeat and nice wooomp-woomp sounds. "Kohoutek" brings in a high energy breakbeat, with incredible production. A pounding bassline roller rolls out some nice red carpet, as pretty melodies and chimes come to meet you. Full of interesting sounds, along with a piano descent and an effected, soulful vocal "hum-mmmm.' The breakbeats come in with a lot of power, and the song becomes gorgeous, moody, and joyful. More eccentric sounds bring us into the drum n' bass of "Moor, with lush vocals. 808 State show that they can carve and craft beats and sounds with incredible detail and skill. Digeridoo and beautiful acoustic guitar bring us into the strange universe of "Jerusahat" Blissful sounds and slamming bass circle into the vista, with conversing bells, synth-words and bass-pools and chords. Ominous sounds and eastern desert-winds open up before the mind, and again that beautiful guitar along with an emotional analogue thread lead us straight where 808 State want us to be - a diverse sound-clash, dancing and grooving sounds, and melodic heaven. "Banacheq," brings us into a very thick and hard-hitting breakbeat, with a guitar distortion ride. The 808 is alive and well here - somewhere between the Chemical Brothers and Ozric Tentacles, but most definitely 808 State. This album is extremely dense with sounds, melodies, styles, and ideas. The diversity of sounds and instruments is staggering in comparison with most electronic albums, somewhere maybe akin to Peter Gabriel's Passion, but with a wallop of beats and madness for sure. For this album, the State used instruments and things like an Anvil, Alto Melodica, Blues Harp, Armadillo Guitar, Gibson Les Paul Guitar, Pocket Trumpet, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, JV80 Steel Drums, 909, 808, Oberheim Matrix, saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Mini Moog, Korg Prophecy, Jupiter 8, 8 String Hawaiian Slide, kalimba, Zither, electric pianos, JD 800 flute, and on. Wow! This album is at times dark, and at times joyous. In my humble opinion, it is way ahead of its time, and may be the future of popular music. I can see why Graham Massey is proud of this album. It may not fit nicely into a conservative definition of techno or dance music. But if you love music, you'll enjoy Don Solaris. It is daring, innovative, diverse, and full of genius and electronic wizardry.

[Reviewer: T. Kelley]

808 State Album Review: Don Solaris Wax
August 1996
Page: 65

'Don Solaris' - (Warner)

808 State Album Review: Don Solaris

In their time, 808 State have been behind some of the most influential, radical dance music ever with 'Pacific State', 'Cubik', 'In Yer Face' and, erm, the theme music to The Word. Their last album 'Gorgeous' was a blend of beautiful harmonies, sampled B-Lines and weird trickery that failed to maintain their lofty reputation but still sounded good. 'Don Solaris' takes their investigation into sound a good deal further, with a confusing concoction of beautiful melodies, rampant bass-lines and seemingly incongruous rhythms that may not all work, but refuse to be ignored. Lamb's Louise Rhodes crops up on 'Azura' for a spot of Bjork-style warbling, while soprano sax squeals all over 'Black Dartangnon' and 'Joyrider' is surely their attempt to bring 'Pacific' up to date. Elsewhere the harsh electronica and broken beats battle for supremacy, and though not exactly easy-listening, 'DonSolaris' is an album that will grow on you, as 808 State force you into the
esses of dance music.


[Reviewer: Jim Bedford]

808 State Album Review: Don Solaris Mojo
Issue 32
July 1996
Page: ??

Remember that classic Madchester TOTP? Along with Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses, 808 State were the third part of that glorious baggy TV triumvirate. Five albums on, the
veterans of English dance are still making music that combines their warehouse roots, Graham Massey's prog tendencies, epic soundtrack sweeps, and an undiminished propensity for inspired guest vocalists.

[Reviewer: RC]
808 State Album Review: Don Solaris NME
15th June 1996
Page: 47


Don Solaris
ZTT/All formats

808 State Album Review: Don Solaris

BELIEF? LAZINESS? Arrogance? Simple bloody-mindedness? Whatever reason possessed 808 State to take a four-year break, they return to a global dancefloor altered beyond recognition.
The only bona fide techno supergroup resurface to find Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield and a host of others ruling the roost. Not only that, but entire new musical genres now exist. So what can three poor boys from Manchester do? Dust up their tried-and-tested formula, dress it all up in modern finery, make concessions to drum'n'bass, and keep their fingers crossed, of course.

808 State were always the most rock-friendly dance act extant. Where others see divergent and mutually exclusive paths, Graham Massey and his two DJ pals see a definite link between the two musical forms and a new way of working.

It's telling that 'Don Solaris''s more grandiose passages recall the dark days of early-'70s experimentation - these guys have been around long enough to find the once-reviled coming full circle back into hipness. Plus, when you check the guest vocal spots by James Dean Bradfield, Doughty (of Soul Coughing infamy) and Louise Rhodes (Lamb), despite a variation in quality, you know the State are locked to rock.

And it's nosebleed time, chill-out time, spliff-up time, head-banging time, and comedown time all at once, as the 808 signature sound roams the country, then takes off into space. With the jittery beats of drum'n'bass alternating with rock and techno patterns, the alchemists just get all science-fiction on top and wait to collect the money...

Minus 'Banacheq', and its tentative attempt at some Brian Eno type ethnography, they do cut their coats according to their commercial size, to the extent of echoing their greatest hit, 'Pacific State', on the dub-licious title track. Even if the Manic Street Preacher singer sounds slightly uncomfortable in the pristine, almost clinical surroundings of 'Lopez', Doughty's description of the nuclear fission process, 'Bond', more than compensates for this with a great Mark E Smith pastiche.

So, 808 State are back to spread joy, theorise on the nature of power - hence 'Don Solaris' - and get sardonically funky with some of the most deceptively complex and layered dance tunes since, well, since they last appeared. The question is: will anyone care?


[Reviewer: Dele Fadele]
808 State Album Review: Don Solaris DJ Magazine
No. 166
6th June 1996
Page: 70

808 State Don Solaris ZTT

808 State Album Review: Don Solaris

A classic album is one which you play all the, way through, not skipping one track. Then when it's finished you put, it back on right from the beginning again. You don't really get that many of those albums in dance music but when you do - WOW! Don Solaris, the new album by Manchester's 808 State, has actually got me into sudh a tizzy I have an uncontrollable urge to gush about the sheer joyous, majestic wonder of this music. A deep, evangelical need to preach the holy bible of this record has never come over me. Brothers and sisters, put your hands together and let us pray....Anyone who was around in 1989 will remember being blown away by 808 State's magnificent sensual sax anthem 'Pacific State'. Since then the band have been relatively quiet apart from Graham Massey's contributions to Bjork's superb 'Post' LP. Well, now it's 1996 and the State are back big time, clutching an incredible time bomb of a record. Ignore the pretentious track titles, this is British dance music at its very best. A surprise at every turn, the first track is a strange gothic number with 'Sweat In the Eyes' Bowie-esque vocals. 'Azure' is an obvious single - Beth Gibbons/Bjork vocal 'In a world where mediocrity rules, bodies collide without a moment of emotion' float astride a sweet D&B groove. 'Joyrider' is a contender for 'Pacific State' part 2 - a beautiful bumping saxophony. Side two is even more compelling than the first. The melodic 'Joy, it gives me my last regret', Pete Wylie (actually James Dean Bradfield) sung 'Lopez' dissolves into the dark, dairy crunch of 'Balboo'. 'Kouhoutek' is Old skool piano-led house which breaks down, meanders erratically before crashing back with a glorious, almost classical finale. 'Mooz' is Kate Bush meets Photek meets Bjork (again) and 'Banacheq' is so damn funky and fucked up it gives the Chemical Brothers a run for their money anyday. Anyone who still thinks electronic music is cold and barren should cop a load of this; one listen and you'll be popping sprogs all over it. With an incredible ear for melody, arrangement, moods and fresh clubland beats, 808 State have come up with a classic. A record you'll want to play continuously until you know it inside out. Amen and God bless.


[Reviewer: Daniel Newman]