808 State 808:88:98
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Celebrating, as the title hints at, ten years of work together, 808:88:98 makes the brilliant case for 808 State's place as a modern techno pioneer. Time has shown that while a rougher breakbeat approach ended up defining much of dance in the broad public eye during the '90s, 808 State's own slightly cleaner approach was no less energetic and instantly compelling. Starting with the hyperactive shimmer and smooth flow of "Pacific," an instant trip back to the acid house days of the late '80s, 808:88:98 merrily makes its way through the years, touching on both the smash hits and some side diversions. The guitar mania and prototypical synth riff blare of "Cubik" provides the second blast, while both tunes reappear at the end in 1998 remixes. 808 State practically invented the "famous guest vocalist" cameo in techno and a slew of its various collaborations are sprinkled throughout. Bernard Sumner and Ian McCulloch aren't included, while regretfully the resolutely unspectacular MC Tunes is ("The Only Rhyme That Bites" isn't even much musically), but otherwise it's a feast of choices. Björk's playfully dark spin on "Ooops" (the clear harbinger of her eventual solo career), the Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield's winsome turn on "Lopez," and even UB40's work on "One in Ten" all make for reasonable crossover winners, though Lamb's Louise Rhodes steals the show with "Azura." For all that, the group's own work stands out most of all, from the threatening vocal snippets and drum slams of "In Yer Face" to the multi-percussive clatter and charge of "Bombadin." An appreciative essay makes the case for the band's landmark work and broad appeal, among other things noting that 808 State played for American crowds numbering in the thousands well before the major labels thought techno even existed.