808 State: Optical
Video Review
808 State Video Review: Optical Select
April 1991
Page: 124

Optical 90

808 State Video Review: Optical

808 STATE seem to be pretty ordinary geezers. Never at pains to contrive a band image, they're rooted in that part of rave/club culture which shifts attention away from the on-going activity of music-making. towards the reaction it induces on the dancefloor.

That's cool. No egomania, just let people enjoy it. In general, though, pop videos thrive on the star presence, offering glimpses of your heroes in improbable postures and financially unrealistic attire. Optical 90 mainly ignores the standard formula and it works, showing that things can be done differently.

Exceptions that prove the rule are the promos for the two singles with MC Tunes, 'The Only Rhyme That Bites' and 'Tunes Splits The Atom', where the energetic white rapper becomes the traditional focus for the camera. With lip-syncing, step-routines and the odd wacky caper (Graham Massey as the Virgin Mary?!), they're in the familiar MC Hammer vein, but well done.

The other two promos include much less in the way of group antics, just various Statesmen bopping along to studio playbacks. 'Pacific' is matched with images of globes spinning amid assorted graphics, and 'Olympic' has loose, colourful animation of sporting endeavours - athletes running, pole-vaulters, er, vaulting... In both cases a fitting accompaniment.

The remaining clips ('Cubik', 'Cobra Bora' and 'In Yer Face') were shot "live" at the Ibizan Club in September. All lights, lasers and fish-eyed raverie, these epitomise the 808 vibe. If you catch sight of a band member through the smoke and ecstatic dancing, he's usually smoking and dancing, well ecstatic.

There may be something anachronistic about watching a rave, as ogling the participants ain't the buzz. It's not about being a wallflower, even a couch potato, but getting down and getting involved. Still, the footage here transfers the excitement into your living room, edited into rapid-fire action.

As these alternate with the promos, and the whole lot comes cut together by director Howard Walmsley into one breathless half-hour sequence, Optical 90 does the rare thing of capturing the subject's spirit. Possibly not a video you'll have the stamina for too often, but one that will have you off the sofa sharpish when you do.


[Reviewer: ANDREW PERRY]