808 State have really gone beyond the call of duty with Outpost Transmission. Although you can dance to it, this is not your typical "dance music." The whole album is an ornate, sophisticated, jumble sale of peculiar electronic gizmos no one else knew existed or had a use for. The 808 have always been rhythm-obsessed. Here, they often use more than one completely different rhythm per track, starting and stopping them frequently to make room for a menagerie of aural curiosities.
Several tracks have an Oriental motif happening, like Slowboat, a cheery little melody, Dissadis which sounds like a soundtrack for a movie about samurai warriors, and Souflex which starts with cheesy scales then unexpectedly shifts to spy movie strings. Cool. Chopsumwong and Suntower are meandering and ‘experimental-sounding', the latter has you flying through a magenta sky overlooking an alien landscape of bright orange trees and fluorescent green sand dunes (visual impressions may vary by listener). Lungfoo employs sax, flute, vibraphone (I think), and gongs. Yoyo is Orb-ish – with a fast fluttery rhythm, synth washes . . . plus electric guitar. Right now my fave is Bent with its truly wicked drum corps / hip-hop rhythm & timpani thing. Some rapper could have had a huge hit with this as the backing track, though it's very good such a thing did not actually occur.
Three tracks have vocals (if you don't count Boogieman which samples someone saying "boogieman boogiewoman"). 606, featuring Simian, has a bouncy bassline and a dramatic tone to kick it off. Lemonsoul starts out like a Depeche Mode track but then pensive keyboard playing and sleepy vocals (supplied by Guy Garvey) break through. Crossword's got beat poetry courtesy of Rev. D. Wayne Love. Admittedly, I don't know who any of these people are.
A note regarding the UK and US track listings: I have the UK version and the 4 tracks it has that the US does not are Boogieman, Roundbum Mary, Slowboat, and Yoyo, while the US version has Quincy's Lunch, Brown Sauce, Long Orange, and Doctors & Nurses.
Is Outpost Transmission worth the price? Oh, yeah. It's PURE GOODNESS. Would it be worth it to get both the US and the UK issues with a total of 18 shiny new tracks? Yes – simply forgo the purchase of mediocre dance music that you know you'll soon be bored with and get the import instead. That's what I'd do. But at least get one or the other. 808 State compose their music for the joy of it. So enjoy!