Deriving their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine and currently comprised of founding member Graham Massey and Andrew Barker, the pioneering Manchester, UK-based electronic act 808 State can trace their origins back to 1987 when the act was founded by Massey, Martin Price, and Gerald Simpson. The act was initially a hip-hop named Hit Squad Manchester, but shortly after the act’s formation the shifted their sound to house music. And with the release of their full-length debut, Newbuild, the members of 808 State became pioneers of acid house.
Released in 1989, their critically applauded and commercially successful single “Pacific State” received airplay on BBC Radio 1, eventually landed at #10 on the UK charts. Although “Pacific State” may be the most commercially successful song in their catalog, the band went through the start of a series of lineup changes that year: Gerald Simpson left the act to start his solo recording project, A Guy Called Gerald. The act recruited the DJ tandem Spinmasters — Andrew Barker and Darren Partington — to join the act. As a quartet, they recorded and released 1989’s Quadrastate EP and their sophomore full-length Ninety.
1990’s The North At Its Heights found the acid house pioneers collaborating with MC Tunes. The album was a moderate commercial success, landing at #26 on the UK Albums Charts, thanks to the success of its released singles — “The Only Rhyme That Bites,” which landed at #10 on the UK Charts; “Tunes Splits the Atom,” which landed at #18; and and “Primary Rhyming,” which landed at #67.
1991’s Ex:el featured the vocals of New Order‘s Bernard Sumner and Bjork — and three released singles, “In Yer Face,” which landed at #9 on the UK Charts; “Cubik,” which landed at #10; and “Lift,” which landed at #38. By the end of that year, Martin Price left the band for his own solo production work, eventually starting his own label Sun Text Records. The remaining members went on to write and record their fourth album, 1993’s Gorgeous. After doing some remix work for David Bowie, Soundgarden and others, the members of 808 State released 1996’s Solaris, an album which found the act collaborating with Manic Street Preachers‘ James Dean Bradfield on “Lopez,” a track that landed at #20 on the UK Singles Chart; with Soul Coughing‘s Mike Doughty on “Bond;” and Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes on “Azura.”
2003 saw the release of Outpost Transmission, which featured guest spots from the Alabama 3 and Elbow’s Guy Garvey. They followed that up with the re-issue of Quadrastate and a trilogy of pre-ZTT Record releases on CD. Since then, Partington left the act, after being jailed for 18 months in January 2015 for drug possession and drug dealing. He then became the frontman of Manchester band Big Unit, a rock band with acid house underpinnings.
Last year, the act celebrated their 30th anniversary with a tour that featured the act playing new version of songs across their history and new material off their sixth full-length album. 808 State’s seventh album, Transmission Suite is slated for release next week, and the album reportedly finds the act staying true to their long-held ethos of being forward-thinking. The album’s latest single “Ludwig Equation” is a high octane powered bit of house music, centered around skittering beats, blasts of arpeggiated synths and sampled dialogue that sounds as it came from an old movies — but the track finds the act creating a song that meshes elements of house music with footwork in a propulsive fashion.
The recently released video for “Ludwig Equation” was created by their longtime visual collaborator Michael England. The visual is shot in grainy and glitchy VHS tape, with explosions of bright colors and features the New York-based dance troupe PNDT dancing to the song.
Acid-house pioneers 808 State release the video for “The Ludwig Question” ahead of new album Transmission Suite, a record that remains true to the forward-thinking ethos of this remarkable band.
The Ludwig Question is an athletic future bass cut that pulses and gyrates with an intense mechanical energy that blends perfectly with the choreography and dance by the New York City PNDT (Patricia Noworol Dance Theater).
“The new video has been made by our long-term visual collaborator Michael England.
“A high-octane thermal hyper-mash through the streets of N.Y.C. Using traditional hand painted frame by frame animation and analogue audio video synthesis to blur the lines between choreography and pure urban abstraction’ – states Graham Massey
The band is excited to announce two special Graham Massey 808 State “Transmission Suite” Live dates in Germany – at Berlin’s Ipse on 15th November and at Uebel & Gerahrlich, Hamburg on 16th November. 808 State will also appear at Robot Festival in Bologna, Italy on 25th October and Barcelona’s Razzmatazz on 23rd November. For tickets and listings go to the band’s website here.
808 State are back with a new 15-track album, Transmission Suite. Its tracks reflect the rich backstory of electronic music, but with 808 State being 808 State, they also deliver an innovative and forward-thinking vision. Put simply, Transmission Suite – their seventh album – effortlessly evokes the past, present and future.