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!
It's been a long time since we've had an album from 808 but it's definitly been worth the wait. Ever since I first heard the sounds of Pacific State I was hooked to the 808 sound and Outpost Transmission is definitly more the electronic sound of the old 808 State, tracks like 606, Chopsumwong, Wheatstraw, Suntower, Dissadis and Souflex all have the unique melodies in there. 808 State were one of the first electronic bands from the UK and 14 years on they are still here releasing excellent music when most other artists have got stuck with the latest trends 808 State always produce something unique and here is a perfect example of this.
808 State are back in 2002 with thier eagerly awaited new album Outpost Transmission. Featuring sublime guest vocals from Alabama 3, Simian and Guy Garvey of Elbow. This album continues the dance pioneers' tradition of producing some of the best music around and keeps them at the forefront of the dance world. Whilst it sticks close to the 808 formula, it still has enough new touches to be something different and unique, and as with all of thier work you never quite know whats coming next. Superb tracks 606, Crossword and Suntower could easily be single hits, whilst the rest of the album is as elaborate and sophisticated as you would expect for a band of 808 State's calibre. Touches of breakbeat, acid and ambient mix in with intricate melodies and strings, which make it a varied affair, parts of the album have an overall japanese feel to them. (as well as some of the track titles) The Japanese version boasts the superb bouns track Quincy's Lunch and the US version has 4 different tracks including the exhilirating Long Orange. All in all this ranks as one of 808 State's best works and in my opinion only reinforces the argument that they are perhaps the best electronic artists of the last 15 years. My advice? try it, you WILL like it!
I grew up on 808 State. I grew up, to be fair, on far too many bands and choons.
But I first heard "Ex:El" on cassette borrowed from the local library, while walking to school one miserable morning. It became my beacon. It became my introduction to all things rave, dance, electronic, and techno. I've followed the State wherever they've gone since.
So I was genuinely delighted to discover this album, something I hadn't known existed, something recorded many years after their last piece of genius, "Don Solaris."
I was even more delighted to discover that this is an excellent piece of work, mature and forward thinking but still danceable and hardcore. Some lovely off-kilter tracks like "Chopsumwang" ( great title too lads ) and "Suntower" are preceded by my favourite track on the album, the lovely "606" with Simian on vocals.
Happy nostalgia and new music from the boys. Well worth a listen.