There are two things that are certain in life: Death and Taxes, as a famous philosopher wrote. There are two things that are certain in Techno. 1: 808 State will release a fantastic album, and 2: Everyone will ignore this fact.
Finally, after several wilderness years, punctuated only by a (largely ignored, and godlike) Greatest Hits compilation, the 808 boys return to the form that was 'Don Solaris' but with MORE experimentation, and MORE originality.
This record is full of the inventiveness that those in the know have come to expect from these wily Mancs. The boys who split the atom in introducing Bjork to the freeform joys of dance based music (via the HUGE 'OOOps' from the equally MASSIVE 'EXcel' album) and broke a WHITE MANC rapper (MC Tunes) into the British pop charts have plowed their always exceptional furrow through electronica for over a decade. Each turn they have taken seems to have anticipated a completely wrong turn for the rest of the music world.
When they advanced breakbeats and hip hop stylings, the world went trance. When they stuck their necks out into new time signatures, and guest vocals from great rock stars (James Dean Bradfield/Bernard Sumner), four to the floor and Noel Gallagher were the taste of the people.
Anyway, back to this record.
The guest vocals strangely do not provide the standout tracks as so many times before seemed to be the case, as Guy Garvey (Elbow) seems to sing a little inconsequential lullaby on 'Lemonsoul'. Very nice, but nothing to scream about. * Simian* seem to be on subdued form also. It is the true 808 tracks that are breathtaking, like the CRAZY synth lines on 'Wheatstraw' and the beats that seeme to scream "It's still 89 in 2003" that permeate each hallowed bar of this long player.
What lets them down is their past significance. In every career there must come a time when the set is as strong as it ever was, but now seems curiously anachronistic, and people just take no notice of something that was is and forever will be beautiful.
I am not kidding you. If you do not have 'EXcel', then buy it. If you do. Buy this, because it will surprise you. It is an excellent album marred by its timing, as always. I love you, guys
8Alice Dream's Score