808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite 808 State: Transmission Suite
Album Review
808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite Wire
December 2019
Issue 430
Page 44
808 State
Transmission Suite
808 State CD/DL/2*LP

Intriguing that the first new release from 808 State in 17 years was recorded in the now derelict Granada Studios in their native Manchester, a strange, ghostly, uncleared space full of teleprinters, teletext screens and boxes of floppy discs. That rub between the digitally passe and the fearlessly futurist was always what appealed about 808's music, its mix of coldness of attitude and warmth of texture, and it's gratifying to find that Transmission Suite, as immediately revealed on the rubbery robotic frictiveness of "Tokyo Tokyo", is familiarly in 808-land, under a northern sky and unmistakably forward looking.

"Skylon" reveals/recalls another vital facet to 808 - their love of hiphop production, specifically the late 1980s school of propulsive fast beats as engendered by Ultramagnetic MCs et al. Graham Massey and Andrew Barker have been away but are clearly still deeply plugged into the music of their own city - what I hear on much of Transmission Suite isn't an attempt to recover past glories, but a reflection of what's kicking off in Manchester now - "Cannonball Waltz" and "Landau" fizzily bringing contemporary bass dynamics into the swirl, redolent of Levelz, Black Josh, Chimpo, IAMDDB and Manchester's other current leading lights. Together with that bristlingly modernist feel is Massey/ Barker's touching fondness for some old textures and shapes they can't quite shake their addiction to yet, the balance they always achieved between Massey's post-punk drive and Barker's roots in the DJ booth. "Bushy Bushy", "Westland" and "Carbonade" are pure Manchester via Detroit glimmer and gloom, that night-time feel where streets feel less linked by grids and geometry and become chemically linked, an urban geography of feeling and urge tinged with post-industrial ennui.

What makes Transmission Suite work beyond its sounds is the belief Massey and Barker still have in the 808 project, the push all their music has of maintaining the future both as ultimate aim and ultimate source of anxiety. 808 State's music has lost none of its foreboding, finesse and power. Sit deep within and enjoy.

[Reviewer: Neil Kulkarni]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite ticketarena
14th October 2019
Album Of The Week: 808 State - Transmission Suite


808 State Review: Transmission Suite

We’ve all seen our eighties nights ruined by someone dancing to ancient tunes like Pacific 202 or Cubik, doing the big-little-fish-cardboard-box thing, shouting stuff like “‘ave it!” or “get on one matey” whilst simultaneously gurning like a two year old.

Transmission Suite thankfully isn’t for those people. This is because 808 State – now just a duo of Graham Massey and DJ Andrew Barker – have used it to both experiment and take electronic music to its ingenious outer limits.

Now relocated to the site of the former Granada Television studios in Manchester, they’ve channelled source materials like Kraftwerk’s noodling, the bubbling underground techno hiss of Detroit and the BBC’s classic Radiophonic Workshop output from the 1970s, creating by design a hybrid that’s both danceable and thrillingly leftfield.

What they also capture is the movement’s early futurist outlook: opener Tokyo Tokyo sounds both from a possible 22nd century and the grimy post-industrial wastelands of Northern Britain via ghostly samples, a robot sigh motif and a piping acid bassline. That Brave New World ethos is most obvious on Pulcenta, a party tune for the sharp suited automatons of before the First World War, countered by the bullet train elegance of Skylon, which would be jazz if this wasn’t some imagined era before it had been invented or forgotten.

It would’ve been easier – and almost certainly more profitable – if Massey and Barker had merely trotted out a dozen or so rush up arpeggios and called it a legacy. But nothing here is that stilted; on Cannonball Waltz for instance an American voice apologises for its sins whilst freaky squelches and anxiety inducing pads blip relentlessly in the background, like a perpetual chase scene gone bad.

In tone Transmission Suite has some similarities to Cabaret Voltaire’s pioneering, sample heavy work of the early eighties but without the menace; the tribal drum fills of Ujala hint are almost Balearic, while Trinity is a flashback to the sleek patterns and optimism of the era in which the band were born, a rolling knot of melodies with a TV theme aesthetic, perhaps inspired by the pair’s new surroundings.

Like digging through the old tapes they might’ve found, there’s an endless, almost childlike sense of discovery; on The Ludwig Question a diva chirps into the void before a scale ramps up and down like a fried circuit, the fizzing Angol Argol sounds fresh like the Bellville Three have just got to work in 1987, while the apex moment is surely Carbonade’s irresistible pulsing back and forth.

Massey has spoken about the early phases of the original rave movement and its rejection of the status quo, of it giving young people a purpose and motivation that outsiders and the authorities struggled to comprehend. Transmission Suite is not a dangerous record in that sense, not one that will start a counter revolution, but it’s an endlessly creative, fascinating catalogue of sounds and styles that prove the elements fused together by pioneering artists were more than just a hedonist’s picture box.

This is serious music, for happy people.

[Reviewer: Andy Peterson]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite live4ever
14th October 2019
Album Review: 808 State – Transmission Suite

808 State Review: Transmission Suite

With the sweetest of sounds coming from the speakers of the Ticket Arena office it would be mighty selfish of us to keep them to ourselves, so we thought we’d let you in on what our staff use to soundtrack a hard day’s work. Now a weekly feature with the intent of bringing your attention to wonderful new sounds every Monday, our Album Of The Week looks at releases from the best in the game, whether fresh new acts about to hit the big time or established artists reminding the world of their continued talent. Simply put, it’s just the best in music that we think you should hear.

Set in an imaginary world far in the future where technology is beyond what humans in 2019 can truly begin to comprehend, 808 State are no strangers to producing innovative new soundscapes that has shaped the way listeners perceive a lifestyle that includes robots, space and other futuristic themes. Over 30 years of work and the band are back better than ever with their latest LP titled Transmission Suite. Immerse yourself in the creativity of this dynamic duo with brilliant new music in the form of tracks on their latest album from the likes of ‘Trinity’, ‘Tokyo Tokyo’, ‘The Ludwig Question’ and so many more tracks of the electronic genre.

Catch 808 State at The Warehouse Project, which takes place at Mayfield Depot, Manchester on Saturday 30th November.

[Reviewer: Stefan Gandhi]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite musicOMH
11th October 2019
808 State – Transmission Suite
(808 State) UK release date: 11 October 2019


808 State Review: Transmission Suite

When Pacific State was released in 1989, it’s fair to say few people outside of the burgeoning electronic dance music movement could see it sitting overground for more than a year or two. Yet here we are, three decades on, with its currency is stronger than ever. Even the very mention of 808 State can reduce a grown adult to misty-eyed reverence.

The band have remained a going concern since that release, but with a recent heavy emphasis on reissues of their past work. Transmission Suite, self-released, is their first new album in 17 years, and reaffirms their commitment to looking forward. As he explained in a recent interview with musicOMH, lynchpin member Graham Massey sees himself as a music ‘lifer’ – and as such never saw himself straying too far from home.

With the 808 State name back up in lights, he and Andrew Barker revisited their roots for the construction of Transmission Suite, holed up in the disused Granada studio. That and everything else about the album has a strong whiff of the late 1980s, with squelchy analogue sounds, fresh and inventive beats, lively and witty fragments of speech and even the object-based artwork. Yet crucially it feels new, too, the ideas all fresh off the page.

The first six minutes of Transmission Suite are enough to convince us all is well. By that time second track Skylon is chattering away, its skittish beats complemented by longer, arching synth lines that suggest a fusion of Detroit, Chicago and Berlin techno without conforming to either. It succeeds Tokyo Tokyo, which takes a sampled line and runs with it, and precedes Cannonball Waltz, where some enjoyable hythmic weirdness takes place around the spoken ‘I was wrong’ hook, indicating the traits of early 1990s albums such as Ex:El are very much alive and kicking.

There is a strong sense of enjoyment in the nooks and crannies of these tracks. The likes of Westland are full of this, with what seems to be about three tracks at once. In the background a warm techno track goes through its enjoyable motions, while in the foreground quasi-orchestral stabs and electronic whooshes divert the attention, all over an offbeat and off kilter rhythm. The descriptive track Carbonade pans out to a desolate but affecting urban portrait, while the excellent Trinity also has semi-orchestral workings, hurling out chords in all directions above a full bodied kick drum.

It may be long – a track or two over limits perhaps – but Transmission Suite teems with ideas, enthusiasm and a love for the electronic game of music. In fact some of 808’s material feels as though it could have been developed even further, while some of the nuggets burst at the seams with ideas that could power several albums.

Massey and Barker are back with a flourish, the 808 State reputation further enhanced by music that proves they have never really been away. Hopefully they will kick on with more music soon. For if Massey is indeed a ‘lifer’, we may only be half way through their story!

[Reviewer: Ben Hogwood]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite London In Stereo
10th October 2019
Issue 75
808 State – Transmission Suite // Album Review

Self-Release – October 11th

808 State Review: Transmission Suite
Seventeen years after their last release, I guess 808 State have been slowly digesting the enormous buffet that’s been their career and now the acid reflux is forcing its way up. Full of sci-fi waltzes and intricate samples layered beneath tongue-in-cheek hooks and hefty basslines, Transmission Suite is understated, disjointed and masterful. It’s only halfway through lead single, ‘Tokyo Tokyo’, when the beloved TB-303 finally shows its face, that you remember just how fucking cool acid house is. Recorded in the now-abandoned Granada Studios, where they first performed on television in 1989, you can really hear the clunks and whirrs of all that obsolete machinery, underpinned with the welcome return of the acid break.

[Reviewer: Madeline Wrench]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite Exclaim
8th October 2019

808 State Transmission Suite


808 State Review: Transmission Suite
In the late '80s and early '90s, 808 State helped pioneer British electronica with a trio of LPs, influencing pioneering artists like Aphex Twin and Björk along the way. Unfortunately, their three subsequent releases saw the Manchester quartet gradually losing the plot, relying too much of guest vocalists while trying to keep up with their big beat peers.

After self-releasing a pair of EPs earlier this year, 808 State seem revitalized, releasing their first full-length in 17 years, Transmission Suite. Returning to their instrumental acid house roots, the pared-down lineup (now just featuring Graham Massey and Andrew Barker) have put together a sprawling 15-track throwback that focuses heavily on the band's use of bended synth lines, disjointed rhythms and urban beats - best demonstrated by standout tracks like the polyrhythmic "Cannonball Waltz," the dramatic/thematic "Trinity" and the perfectly layered "Carbonade."

Although there may be a few too many half-baked ideas thrown around, as tracks like the hollow "Ujala" and the clunky "Bushy Bushy" demonstrate, 808 State nonetheless come off focused, confident and delightfully wistful on Transmission Suite. (Independent)

[Reviewer: Daniel Sylvester]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite The Arts Desk
5th October 2019

CD: 808 State - Transmission Suite

First album in 17 years from Mancunian electronic innovators is an engaging retro-futurist ear-journey

808 State Review: Transmission Suite

Prior to the UK dance music explosion of summer 1988, house and techno were American micro-scenes, geographically restricted to Chicago, Detroit and New York. Small coteries showed interest in the UK, but few thought of making the stuff. Mancunian producers 808 State, however, were early adopters, recording an album that year and later charting with iconic 1989 hit “Pacific State”, a futuristic, Balearic instrumental. 30 years on, their seventh album is both forward-looking and a tribute to old analogue technologies.

808 State, once a four-piece, is now the duo of long-term members Graham Massey and DJ-producer Andrew Barker. Transmission Suite is named for the deserted, long-unused studios of defunct broadcasting giant Granada TV, where they recorded it. The experience has flavoured it. 808 State always drew sonic parallels between the techno music of Detroit’s urban desolation and that of Manchester’s, and the best of this album captures the same sense of post-industrial emptiness and unease. Opener “Tokyo Tokyo” is a case in point, an acid roller built around farty machine noises, but it’s at the end of the album they really push the boat out. A quintet of abstruse pieces reside there, brilliantly offbeat and brain-mangling, such as the tweaked out “Pulcenta” which sounds like children’s electronic toys in terminal meltdown. These tunes give Britain’s chief doyen of abstract electronica (and 808 State fan) Aphex Twin a run for his money.

Elsewhere are other sounds, stark techno and electro based on the Detroit blueprint; the Nineties ravey “Trinity”; a belting dancefloor work-out called “Ujala” that comes on like a tribal ceremony for robots. What’s strangely compelling is that, despite 808 State’s production no longer sounding futuristic in the way that, say, an artist like Tony Njoku's does, their work intimates an alternate version of the future based on a very specific version of the past. In doing so, the best of it wanders confidently around a dystopian cityscape that is all its own.

[Reviewer: Thomas H Green]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite Mixmag
Issue 341
October 2019
Page: 102

808 State
Transmission Suite SELF-RELEASED


808 State Review: Transmission Suite

In 1988, 808 State became Britain's first real acid house artists (along with former member A Guy Called Gerald), distilling influence from Detroit and Chicago together with the exploding vibe of their local Madcunian rove scene. Now Graham Massey and Andrew Barker - the remaining members - return after 17 years away, drawing predominantly from dingy, acidic electro while sounding as accomplished as anyone else around. They've shed some previous trademarks (tropical birdsong, collaborations with wanky indie singers), but still sound themselves, most thrillingly on the druggy metropolis funk of 'Huronic' and the positively forty 'Bushy Bushy'.

File under Acieed forever
Stream 'Skylon', 'The Ludwig Question', 'Huronic'
Like this? Try Lary D 'Strange Days' (Numbers)

[Reviewer: Sam Davies]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite Classic Pop
Issue 57
October 2019
Page: 83


808 State Review: Transmission Suite

Unlike their last albums, you won't find any notable guest vocalists on 808 State's seventh: no Björks, Guy Garveys or James Dean Bradfields. This time, therefore, it's entirely down to Graham Massey and Andrew Barker to prove that they, if not MC Tunes, can still split the atom.

To be fair, it's 17 years since Outpost Transmission, and there's not a lot on this hour-long, 15-track comeback that would have been likely to lure big names. This, though, is because its intricate electronica is frequently bewildering. In fact, it's regularly, seriously wonky.

In other words, the duo appears to have elected to indulge their extremist tendencies at the expense of accessibility. The Ludwig Question's scattergun percussion displays a twitchy restlessness, Cannonball Waltz is full of acid flashbacks, and while Skylon's simple cycle of stabbing chords recalls the classic Pacific State enough to suggest the ecstasy barely wore off, it's nowhere near as enticingly exotic. Still, if Carbonade's atmospheric techno throwbacks are somehow unrewarding, 13 13 is bafflingly suggestive of Lemon Jelly but ultimately more like Aphex Twin at his most confrontational, while loyal fans - and those open to adventure - will be instantly won over by urgent opener Tokyo Tokyo.

[Reviewer: Wyndham Wallace (WW)]

808 State Album Review: Transmission Suite DJ Magazine
Issue 597
September 2019
Page: 191

808 State
Transmission Suite
808 State



808 State Review: Transmission Suite
Seventeen years on from their last release, pioneering duo 808 State have dropped a full album at a moment in time when full-on rave and early techno revivals are rinsing the underground scene. With other "legacy acts" of their time also making recent appearances and going back on tour, 808 State further cement the fact that there are still a few artists from this proto-era of club music with enduring music that still sounds relevant and fun today. That said, Graham Massey and Andrew Barker aren't trying to reinvent the wheel with this album; instead of changing their aesthetic to match 2019 trends, they've focused on still immersing us in the hardware-led world of sonic futurism that's defined the electronic music of post-industrial cities like Detroit, Berlin and Manchester, while staying relatively timeless.