808 State Album Review: Gorgeous 808 State: Gorgeous
Album Review
808 State Album Review: Gorgeous The Los Angeles Times
30th March 1997
Page: 71

808 State, "Gorgeous" (Tommy Boy).

This British act named for a popular drum machine linked the worlds of Detroit techno and Chicago house to European new wave (via guest singers such as New Order's Bernard Sumner) while helping to launch the careers of Bjork and drum-and-bass artist A Guy Called Gerald.

[Reviewer: Dennis James Romero]

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Creem
Volume 2, Number 9
September 1993
Page: 82

(Tommy Boy)

808 State Single Review: Azura

The test of good music is whether it sounds good at low volume. The test of good club music, however, is how it sounds at very high volume, through an excellent sound system, and preferably in a club. 808 State always passes both tests. Its 1990 album, Utd. State 90, was the best record I've heard in years. To call it techno is absurd - Utd. State 90 ventured far beyond the rigid, four-square tendency that dominates the genre. It was imaginative and seriously funky.

State's current release, Gorgeous, takes a few listens, because it ventures even beyond the group's initial visions. "10x10" continues a smart trend of using guest vocalists: Rachel MacFarlane and Barrington Stuart create a soulful chant flowing over the rhythms. Under the control of programmer Graham Massey and deejays Darren Partington and Andy Barker, 808's polyrhythms continue to entice, always bringing one to the border of visual hallucination, entering the swirl on 808's terms. "One in Ten," featuring vocals by UB40, also grooves, from its opening hip-hop drum riff, to organ chops on the upbeat, to 808's signature pulsating electronics. "Plan 9" starts with an evocative acoustic guitar melody, around which a soulful dance track is built. The middle of the album is the ambient flow section, where we are treated to a mix of sax, vibes, and jazzy percussion rhythms. "Timebomb" brings us closer to the hardcore, with a bristling rhythm section. The album ends with two cuts that signify the 808 State sound: "Sexy Dancer" and "Sexy Synthesizer." Massey has said, "Electronic music doesn't have to mean inhuman music," and 808 State proves it better than ever on this album. I miss some of the rhythmic richness of Utd. State 90, and prefer the use of real dance vocalists rather than rock stars like Ian McCulloch - it fits the sound better. But 808 State is still where it wants to be - state of the art.

[Reviewer: Vincent Katz]

  The Boston Globe
15 April 1993
Page: 94


One of the few bands from the Manchester rave scene with any staying power, 808 State's brand of techno-rock could be described as New Order meets Tangerine Dream, with more percussion. They've been together for more than four years -- an eternity in dance music terms. Their sound has evolved from pure beat-driven house music to include softer mood pieces. "Gorgeous" is an ambitious project with a wide range of styles that never falter. Cuts like "Plan 9" and "Time bomb" will please dance music fans, while the more moderate "Black Morpheus" has a jazzier feel. Other standouts include "10 x 10," which segues seamlessly in an enchanting re-mix of UB40's "One in Ten"; and "Moses," with vocalist Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), which includes samples from Joy Division's "She's Lost Control." The whole disc flows evenly, as layers of synthesized sound wash over and delight. 808 State performs tonight at the Middle East in Cambridge.

[Reviewer: Jimmy Crawley]

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Les Inrockuptibles
April 1993
Page: 94
808 State Gorgeous

"Méfie-toi des Grecs, surtout lorsqu'ils te font des cadeaux." De la dance-music intelligente, un non-groupe mancunien qui revendique ostensiblement l'héritage de New Order, trois rats de laboratoire modestes et inventifs : il n'en fallait pas davantage pour ouvrir toutes grandes les portes du club à 808 State. On a rarement l'occasion, il est vrai, d'aller visiter cette terra presque incognita qui s'étend aux confins de la pop et de la techno depuis que Barney et Hook ont cessé leurs expéditions. On pensait tenir avec ce troisième album un nouveau billet pour le continent perdu et patatra, on est largués en plein Metropolis. On ne peut décidément pas se fier aux Mickey de la house et à leurs obsessions du gros son, mais notre dépit est d'autant plus grand qu'on n'a pas vu le coup venir. Au commencement règne toujours le Verbe : l'album s'ouvre sur une chanson de McCulloch qui fleure bon la Factory des origines, suivent quelques opus mineurs interprétés par Caroline Seaman, Rachel McFerlane et même les joyeux drilles de UB 40. On nous donne en pâture du sampling bien signifiant, sans doute même un peu trop - Joy Division et The Jam (She's lost contrai sur Contrique et Start sur 10+10) -, mais c'est pour mieux nous faire chuter, car très vite les repères s'estompent et on se retrouve en plein cauchemar électronique. Ici, plus de paroles, de mélodies, ni de continuité, la musique est comme atomisée, ce n'est plus qu'un patchwork, une juxtaposition de séquences sonores plus ou moins fédérées par une ligne rythmique. Compositions plus effroyables que les fracas de la musique industrielle, parce que parfaitement inhumaines. Là est sans doute le grand exploit de ce triumvirat : être parvenu à évacuer non seulement la main, mais très souvent aussi la logique des grands primates que nous sommes. On songe à une énorme machine bourrée de sons et d'enregistrements en tout genre soumise aux caprices aléatoires d'un petit lapin Duracell. Le résultat est audible - il y a donc au moins quelqu'un pour changer les piles -, mais on est en droit de ne trouver aucun intérêt et surtout aucun plaisir à l'écoute de cette musique lisse, volontiers répétitive et destinée en fin de compte aux revendeurs de matériel hi-fi et autres adeptes de la purification sonique.

[Reviewer: Stephane Jarno]
808 State Album Review: Gorgeous The Sydney Morning Herald
22nd March 1993
Page: 49

808 STATE: Gorgeous (ZTT 4509 91100-2)

THE signs are faint yet unmistakable: just when you thought it was safe to go out in platform shoes, the early '80s revival is about to descend upon us. Adverts are appearing in the what's-on rags for an early '80s club night, a remix of Heaven 17's 1982 hit Temptation is successfully doing the rounds; sitting in a city coffee lounge last weekend I even heard Ultravox's pomp epic Vienna for the first time in years.

The latest album by British electro-bofims 808 State contains further evidence: a naggingly attractive reworking of UB40's One In Ten (complete with that band's Ali Campbell on vocals); the bassline from Joy Division's She's Lost Control in Contrique (technically from 1979, but let's not quibble), while Echo and the Bunnymen's former lungsmith Ian McCulloch airs his tonsils on Moses.

A club DJ described them to me the other day as "techno" but 808 State have less to do with today's clubland scene than with that era, pre-Howard Jones and Nik Kershaw, when a bank of synthesisers stood for a brave new world of progressivism, when groups stopped calling themselves "bands" and formed themselves into "corporations". Yet their approach is never revivalist, drawing as much from jail fusion instrumentalists Weather Report and Eno-cohort Jon Hassell as from '80s synth outfits like Yello, while the influence of Latin and African music is discernible in their syncopated rhythms.

At their best, 808 State are masterful manipulators of rhythm, texture and melody. A few too many tracks on Gorgeous merely mark time, but they are never less than listenable.


808 State Album Review: Gorgeous DJ Magazine
No. 82
11th February 1993
Page: 44
808 State Gorgeous ZTT

Now, how have 808 State changed since 'Ex:el' a couple of years ago? Well, their new album still has those trendily coloured 'astral' designs on the cover, the songs are still subtly, but trendily titled, like 'Black Morpheus', 'Orbit' or 'Moses' and the music, well, the vibe's still there too. Never repetitive beats accompany weird but relaxing keyboard sounds and vocals, music by which one can't help but feel elated, the kind of feeling you get when you see a happy ending to a good film. It's not always head-banging, it's not always ambient and it's certainly not always boring, although a couple of tracks can be relegated to the realms of 'McDonalds Music'. When it is what it is however, 'Gorgeous' works. This is probably the secret and danceable whilst in the hubbub of a nightclub, music that also works at a lower volume as good background music in the home. Diverse and flowing - a lot of work has obviously gone into it, can be listened to from start to finish without wanting to tear your hair out, I'm gonna give this one a 9/10, Bob.

[Reviewer: Alex C]
808 State Album Review: Gorgeous NME
6th February 1993
Page: 30

Electronically Tested: The NME Team's pick of the month's best LP's:

Gorgeous (ZTT/All formats)

808 State Single Review: Azura

THIS RECORD is far removed from the ubiquitous whacked-in-the-microwave dance syndrome. 808 State spent so long sculpting 'Gorgeous' that the whole thing was remixed as the dance world turned. The result is brave and painstaking - widescreen electronic jiggle-and-chill-out fodder for the CD generation.

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Melody Maker
6th February 1993
Page: 33



808 State Single Review: Azura

IT'S two long years since 808 State's superb "Ex El". And it's not so much that there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, more that the bridge has been knocked down and all the water's dried up. In the interim since 1991, 808 State have lost the services of Martin Price, who presumably took all his electro-toys with him to form Switzerland. The whole Manc scene that buoyed them up around the turn of the decade is in receivership, and as for MC Tunes, his whereabouts is these days speculated on by Denis Norden on daytime quiz shows for the elderly. But are they still gorgeous? Aye, in patches. The opener, "Plan 9", draped with a fetching flamenco guitar (as also used by electro stablemates, Orbital) languishes in its own melody before upping gear into a frantic whirligig of angular techno. Images of tropical Sixties aquadromes deep in the forest are savoured then scuppered by the bpm accelerator. "Europa" featuring the flat, unearthly vocals of Caroline Seaman (a sort of Bjork without the plunging exclamations) hints alluringly at sterile, unsullied new worlds.

Much of side one, however, is devoted to recharging the plugs of a few early Eighties favourites. "Moses", for instance, features a morose Ian McCulloch vocal and lyric which 808 treat with electro kid gloves. Disappointing, this, to those who feel that McCulloch is just the sort of has-been whose decaying corpse remorseless futurists like 808 State should be zapping to death with the full laser treatment. "10x10", similarly, races through a gospel break, thunders up cable and down pylon only, disappointingly, to arrive at a sample of "Start" by The Jam. "Contrique" is great, with its overheated moog and silvery synth breaks but turns out to be an elaborate encasement for a sample of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control". "One In Ten", which you know, is surprisingly successful, especially in its sneaking underneath of the riff from Kraftwerk's "The Model". But what are 808 State doing hanging around with a bunch of twats like UB40, ask the kids. The rest of "Gorgeous" is mainly instrumental, twisting, colourful pieces of rhythmically driven electro-chamber music which rivet and relinquish your attention by turns. "Orbit" is pretty, pretty generic, "Southern Cross" is broodily brilliant with a subtle and sinister rhythmic undertow. "Nimbus" and "Colony" point up 808 State's musical schizophrenia, shifting sharply between solemn and handsome melodic sequences that enhance the suspicion that 808 State are about trying to reinvent the Manc sound of the early Eighties for the early Nineties and fast-cut, whippersnapping electro-breaks.

If you like 808 State you'll like "Gorgeous" for sure. Their problem is, however, that they are sneered at by many younger hipsters -unfairly, perhaps but sneered at nonetheless. The early Eighties ties which they've cultivated here reinforce the unfair notion that they're old hat and this means that they don't get played alongside the new young techno turks any more. That, and they're largely too elaborate to sit comfortably alongside the stripped down back-bedroom generated young bpm merchants. Hence side two "Gorgeous" which, like late Yello, sounds like dancefloor music which will never be played on any actual dancefloor. But where will it be played, and by whom? 808 State haven't lost it, they've just lost a context for the moment, that's all.

[Reviewer: DAVID STUBBS]

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous News-Press Gulf Coasting
Fort Myers, Florida
5th February 1993
Page: 6

808 State

Usually, any adjective used as an album title can be safely considered an exaggeration. But not in the case of 808 State's third effort, "Gorgeous" (Tommy Boy 1067). Even though the 808-ers' taste in electronics doesn't quite conform to classical notions of aural beauty - like many synth-heavy dance acts these days, they adore the buzz of sawtooth waves and the hiss of cheap drum machines - there's something undeniably luscious about the soundscapes here. Granted, that's more pronounced in the ambient-house overtones of tunes like "Orbit" or the gently burbling "Southern Cross," but there's an equal amount of aural majesty in conventional club material like "10 x 10" or "Europa." And that, in the end, ensures that "Gorgeous" will be worth hearing even when you're not in the mood for dancing.

[Reviewer: J.D. Considine - The Baltimore Sun]

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Q
Issue 77
February 1993
Page: 79


808 State Single Review: Azura

The influential Mancunian trio seems to have been around forever. In fact, this is only their third collection of electro dance, following 1989's seminal Ninety, and the chart happy Ex.EI in 1991. According to core member Andrew Barker, "The first half is to get you up and out, the other is music to shag to when you get home". Intriguingly for such a forward-thinking crew, there's also a wide range of retro '80s influences evident. Moses swirls around flat, New Order-style vox; what sounds like a Jam sample powers 10 X 10, while UB40 are sampled whole for a long striding version of One In Ten, as 808 State ditch their previous weakness for over-fussy drum patterns in favour of more spaced-out innovation.

* * *

[Reviewer: Tim Marsh]
808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Vox
Issue 29
February 1993
Page: 60


808 State Single Review: Azura

Conventional wisdom runs that ravers don't buy albums - something to do with the ephemeral nature of the genre. 808 State are doing their damnedest to counfound the theory with dance productions which boast a lingering, more soulful, something.

'10X10' wittily steals The Jam's 'Start' bass-line, then brings in a battery of soulful backing vocals, and it all somehow works. Ian McCulloch brings those distinctive vocals to bear on 'Moses', which elevate the track from mere mash-up dance music to the stately grandeur of fellow Mancs New Order. We're off to a great start then, with an influx of rock personalities that works wonders.

'One In Ten', as the title suggests, lifts from the UB40 song (there's clearly some allure in early '8Os British pop for these boys) and underpins it with a hardcore hip-hop rhythm. Elsewhere they go for more straight-ahead, ambient rave material. 'Sexy Dancer' is mesmerising; the Darth Vadar vocal is a nice touch.

It's been a long wait, but 808 State have managed to create an album which transcends the blipvert generation. Gorgeous is as apt a title as any.


[Reviewer: Michael Odell]

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Billboard
30th January 1993
Page: 63

PRODUCERS: 808 State
ZTT/Tommy Boy 1057

Third album by leader of the now-defunct ambient-house movement shows the U.K. act at a creative crossroads. Material is
skewed between signature soft synth tones and aggressive techno beats-with a dash of modern pop tossed in for even more diversity. Regardless, diehard club fans will revel in "10x10," with its house piano lines and caustic rave riffs, and the dreamy "Europa," which has a lovely vocal by Caroline Seaman. Chances for radio crossover are strengthened by "Moses," three minutes of pure pop pleasure bolstered by the liveliest performance guest vocalist Ian McCulloch has delivered in a long time.

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous NME
30th January 1993
Page: 32


Gorgeous (ZTT/All formats)

808 State Single Review: Azura

808 STATE came surfing into the mass-consciousness of post-acid '89 with the panoramic electronic dancescapes of 'Pacific State' and 'Cubik', found instant chart success, spawned a host of imitators and by last year were packing out Manchester's G-Mex. The underground became a distant blab as they jostled with the big boys for markets all over the world.

But if the arena into which 808 first poked their 51000 was ripe and ready for their cinematic future-glides, things have certainly changed as they (finally) unveil their third long-player.

Hardcore has been and gone. Techno has forged light years ahead from when 'Ex:El' was released in '91. And there are myriad new strains coursing through a dance musk which has finally wrested the baton from tired old rock as the cutting edge youth music.

But 808 State, who deliberately took time out to create this new work at their leisure - and then some - also return to a climate which can propel an electronic sound-painting-with-throbs-on like The Orb to pole position in the album charts. Mew listens to the near-hour of 'Gorgeous' and it becomes apparent that they have no interest in shifting a few hundred white labels and galvanising discerning dancefloors.

This is An Album. A multi-faceted, highly-polished Complete Work. Wide-screen electronic jiggle-and-chill-out fodder for the CD generation. And also that rare species, the dance-spawned album which doesn't possess potholes under the hall carpet.

Good food takes time to prepare, say the techno chefs. This record is far removed from the all too common steak-pie-whacked-in-the-microwave dance album syndrome. 808 spent so long sculpting 'Gorgeous' that the whole thing was remixed as the dance world turned and raced on. Singles like 'Lift' and 'Timebomb' – both here – seemed more like stop-gaps and an ill-advised collaboration with UB40 on 'One In Ten' failed to really pull the public pleasure-cord. The album has also been ready for months but repeatedly shunted back in the record company boardroom.

Indications are that 'Plan 9', the ambiently-stroked new single which also kick-starts the album, could do the business like 'Pacific'. That would help, for the entire tonal spectrum of these IS tracks could be too much for the casual passer-by. They experiment with jazz techno on 'Black Morpheus' but get dirty and trancey on 'Sexy Synthesiser'.

Often it's like John Barry has come back in breakbeats. There are the expected metallic movie theme outings and those collaborations – the UB40 hook-up, Ian McCulloch crooning away on 'Moses', while Joy Division and The Jam are credited for samples.

Brave and painstaking with many stools to fall between, 'Gorgeous' is a soundtrack to 808 State growing up – but not in public.


Kris Needs

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous The Orange County Register
29th January 1993
Page: 51

808 State
"Gorgeous," Tommy Boy

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous

Old-line fans of electronic pop music - those who can remember being transfixed by the cool keyboard musings of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno a generation ago - must be just a little bit embarrassed by what has become of their favorite style. Certainly, electronics have come a long way, baby, but who would have thought music that once conjured images of serene European landscapes would be pushing a salute to rear ends in "Baby Got Back" or a cheesy remake of the theme from "Sesame Street"?

Well, the fogies can hold their pristine visions of electronic music with their Tangerine Dream albums; electronics now belong to the young. Whether it's techno, house, deep house, ambient house, hardcore, hip-hop or gangsta rap, the sampling and keyboard revolution has been kidnapped from the hallowed halls of musical academia and put on the streets. But, as with all revolutions, there are more followers than leaders, and so much of this new-generation dance music seems to be just a matter of switching on the drum machine and leaving the room. That's why England's 808 State, named after a Roland synthesizer, is so valuable. While so many instrumental techno outfits are content just to crank out the BPMs (beats-per-minute), 808 State at its best actually seems to care about such old-fashioned values as melody and composition.
808 State, which helped popularize ambient or new age dance music, doesn't alter its approach too much from its last album, "Ex:El," for its latest release, "Gorgeous." Instrumentals alternate with tracks featuring such guest vocalists as Ian McCulloch and Caroline Sea mon.

But there's nothing stale about "Gorgeous," whether it's the booming club grooves of "Colony," the Ottmar Liebert-meets-Kraf twerk romanticism of "Plan 9," the electro-reggae take on UB40's "One in Ten" or the sax-inflected techno-jazz of "Black Morpheus."
True, there are less-than-stellar moments (the perfunctory "Southern Cross") and, ironically, the songs with vocals come across with less personality. McCulloch gives an enthusiastic performance on "Moses" but the song is still freeze-dried New Order.

But, for all that, "Gorgeous" manages - more often than not - to live up to its title.

[Reviewer: Cary Darling/The Register]

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous Lime Lizard
November 1992
Page: 66

808 state gorgeous (ztt)

808 State Album Review: Gorgeous

Isn't it about time they faded into obscurity? Dance acts, they're supposed to have a hit or two, run out of ideas and disappear, right?

A couple of months back, I was convinced it was about time for 808 State to hand in their floppies and join the great Techno scrapheap in the sky. At three in the morning, in front of fifteen thousand E'd up ravers in the middle of nowhere, 808 State came on and played what was basically a greatest hits set. I mean, what the hell were they playing at? In a medium that thrives on its disposability and its fashion quotient, for better or worse, surely there's no place for the dance equivalent of a lumbering prog-rock
dinosaur that plays a fucking greatest hits set.

Yes, I can see it all now... 'Telstar presents - The Best Of 808 State - remember those special moments under the influence of your favourite hallucinogens - and don't forget, this album is not available in the shops...' What could 808 State possibly have to offer in 1992?

Well, there's always this album. It's...it's...well, gorgeous actually. There I was, all ready to give it the panning it so richly deserved, and they hit me with the sheer enormity of Colony. And then the effortless Moses, with its irresistible Ian McCulloch vocal, the kind of thing Electronic have tried and failed to achieve ever since the glorious Getting Away With It. And then Contrique, with what sounds suspiciously like the bassline from Joy Division's She's Lost Control. And then the delirious, uplifting space pop of 10x 10. And then, believe it or not, an update of UB40's 'classic' One In Ten, complete with the original vocals. Somehow, God knows how, but it works...

And then there's Europa, featuring as it does the exquisite talents of one-time This Mortal Coil vocalist Caroline Seaman. And that's just side one.

Everything's going swimmingly - Gorgeous is already shaping up as a serious contender for those end of year charts - when we hit track twelve: Timebomb, the single. It sucks big ones. Why pander to the rave-by-numbers mentality they so obviously detest? The remainder of the album heaves with highly suspect rave-ology that should be avoided at all costs. Sexy Synthesiser? I ask you!

808 State ought to have realised by now that they no longer owe anything much to rave culture. Those achingly beautiful panoramas of sound don't need to be justified by turning them into chart-orientated singles. 808 State are very much an album band now, and probably the only dance act that has sold consistently since their rise in popularity in the wake of '88s acid explosion. And they still matter. They have proved, almost single-handedly, that it is possible to sell electronic music in a long-play format that is adventurous and beautifully (expensively?) produced without descending into electronic muso wank, for much longer than the customary hit-single-cobbledtogether-cash-in-album routine. Five albums down the line, 808 State just keep getting better.

[Reviewer: Tony Morley]