The story of 808 State defines an era of electronic dance music and sets a blueprint of possibilities for future generations. As the NME observed “808 State revolutionised a whole genre of music in the late-80s, inspiring Underworld, Orbital and the Chemical Brothers in the process.”
Formed in Manchester in 1988 by Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, 808 State’s first album – Newbuild - is now regarded as a milestone in UK electronica.
Quadrastate followed, including Pacific State, becoming an end-of-night anthem at the Haçienda and breaking out of the dance underground when it was picked up by daytime BBC Radio 1. The band pushed against dance-celebrity culture with intentionally minimalist record sleeves and a reluctance to self-promote. During this time Gerald recorded his own hit Voodoo Ray and decided to pursue his own career as A Guy Called Gerald. He was replaced by the 808 State DJs, Andrew Barker and Darren Partington.
In 1989 Paul Morley signed the band to the ZTT label, and the first fruit of this partnership, the album Ninety, was awarded 10 out of 10 by the NME. The Guardian declared that with this record, “808 State mapped out the future of club music, utilising techno, ambient and rock...”
Between Ninety and it's follow-up, ex:el, 808 State delivered two of the most brutal and absorbing instrumentals ever to enter the UK top ten: Cübik, with its squalling abstract guitar and über-riffs, followed quickly by In Yer Face.
In 1991 they released their biggest selling album ex:el, drafting in guests such as Björk and Bernard Sumner from New Order, as well as producing MC Tunes’ album The North At Its Heights. At the peak of chart success and the 'Madchester' era, 808 celebrated with a massive hometown gig filling the G-Mex stadium.
Signing in the USA to influential hip-hop label Tommy Boy, they collaborated with the likes of Quincy Jones, David Bowie and Afrika Bambaataa. With the 1993 album Gorgeous, they delivered their most successful album in the States, acquiring a large popularity on the college radio station scene. Around this time, Martin Price had decided to leave the band.
Following the success of Gorgeous, 808 State took their global touring experience into the studio recording the 1996 album Don Solaris - exploring a more organic post rave sound.
After the release of their first greatest hits package 808:88:98, they delivered further explorations on the Outpost Transmission album in 2002.
In the following years the band’s entire back catalogue was re-issued in expanded form, by ZTT, the Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label and UMAA in Japan. Rephlex also released Prebuild, a collection of very early Acid House recordings, pre Newbuild era.
2011 saw the release of the career overview album Blueprint, including rare and unreleased as well as reworkings spanning two decades worth of 808 State material. The back catalogue re-issue cycle was completed in late 2011 with the expanded reissue of the 1990 MC Tunes album The North At Its Heights.