SOME STUFFS: Remasters on cassette from 808 State

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As cassettes catch on as of late in a second steam of interest, a group from the 90’s will be reissuing their second and third albums in the trusted analog format. 808 State are not only reissuing those albums, but they are being remastered, thanks to Artoffact Records. Ninety was the introduction to the group for most people with the incredible song “Pacific” (a/k/a “Pacific State” or “Pacific 202”). The album also featured such classics as “Donkey Doctor”, “Ancodia”, “Cobra Bora”, and “Sunrise”. This will cater to the original British Ninety album and not the American Utd. State 90 album on Tommy Boy.

The follow up to Ninety was 1991’s ex:el, which featured songs like “Oops” (with help from Bjork), “Spanish Heart”, “In Yer Face”, “Techno Bell”, “Lambrusco Cowboy”, “QMart”, and “Nephatiti”. (NOTE: The group’s debut album, 1988’s Newbuild, is not part of this reissue series.)

Each album will have bonus tracks from the 808 State Archives and each tape, packaged in eight different cassette colored shells, will come with MP3 digital download code. Both cassettes will be released on July 29th.

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REVIEW: “The Art Of The 12″, Volume Two”

Photobucket The Zang Tuum Tumb empire has dug through the virtual vaults to put together the second volume of The Art Of The 12″ compilation series (ZTT/Salvo).

There are many, including myself, who feel that what the ZTT collective of producers and artists did was to show listeners and fans the possibilities of “the strange world of the 12 inch”, or what one can do with an extended version of the song within the context of the ingredients in the soup called a song. If you made any attempt in collecting some level of output from ZTT, you know how thorough and costly it was to simply listen to everything. You had the 7″, the 12″, the cassingle, the alternate 12″, maybe a third alternate, then you heard there was a white label promo, and that there were two different white label promos, and when the compact disc single came to light, you had to add to that. Then when ZTT released compilations describing their process, it almost feels like there were infinite mixes, remixes, and alternate takes of almost everything. Thus, that’s what makes The Art Of The 12″ a fun listen.

What you’ll hear on Volume Two is a mixture of the known and the unknown. For me, my focus has always been Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise and Propaganda, and they are represented well here. The “keep the peace” mix of “Two Tribes” is basically a compilation mix/edit piece of various remixes of the song, including Carnard, Annihilation, and Hibakusha. This “keep the peace” mix found itself on the cassingle for “Two Tribes”, but makes a nice digital presence here. If you were a fan of their cover of Edwin Starr‘s “War”, you’ll get to hear the song here, but now present as a previously-unreleased “coming out of hiding” mix. Also previously unreleased is the “Man As A Sense For The Discovery Of Beauty, Part I” mix of “Relax”. Yes, yet another mix of the almighty “Relax”, and this one begins with an element you could originally find on the cassingle of “The Power Of Love”, before hearing the Ronald Reagan impersonator from mixes of “War” revealing dialogue that in itself is previously unreleased. In a way, it becomes a hybrid of “Relax” to “Two Tribes” to “War”, and the struggle one perhaps creates as they make their way to a pleasure dome.

Propaganda are represented here with two mixes of “Dr. Mabuse” and a 12″ mix of “Sorry For Laughing”, a song that, along with the liner notes from Ian Peel, I felt should have been released as a proper single.

Art Of Noise fans are treated well here, and it shows that even with compilations and a mighty box set to their name, there’s still some music that was left unheard. While it is known that Art Of Noise had done a remix for Paul McCartney‘s “Spies Like Us”, the released 12″ version (called “(Alternative Mix-Known To His Friends As ‘Tom'”) was decent but is put to dust with the proper “Art Of Noise Remix”. In this mix, you’ll hear elements from the “Alternative Mix” but this is the one that should’ve been released. It’s more funky, more out there, and the AoN sense of continuity is here when you hear various sampled elements of what you may have heard in Malcolm McLaren songs. Also here are the much rumored, much discussed 808 State remixes of “Moments In Love”, and they appear here in two different mixes. You also have the “Close Up” mix of “Close (To The Edit)” along with my favorite, “Close Up (Hop)”, complete with samples of the pu’ili.

Also on the album are mixes of songs by Anne Pigalle, Instinct, Nasty Rox Inc., and Mint Juleps, and together they show the kind of creativity, courage, power, strength, and lengths these artists, producers, and remix engineers did in order to stretch the limits of the limited perceptions of music. People weren’t just buying ZTT records for the phenomenon, people were listening to questions, answers, solutions, and new journeys.

Peel’s liner notes reveal the kind of information that will hopefully turn up a Volume Three someday, or at least the release of certain mixes of songs that I was not aware existed. Yes, there was art in creating mixes for 12″ singles, and in every 12″ single there was art. This can be considered excavation of sound rubble, and only those who know and understand the hazards of the excavation will bother going in. It’s a lesson for anyone who loves the art of the remix. It certainly wasn’t Diddy who invented it, and to their credit it wasn’t ZTT Records who came up with it either, but with the information on how to recreate from what was created, it was a chance (or a dance) to see what could be produced from the already-produced. It’s a bit like looking at a plant and realize you are able to grow more plants. It seems like an endless journey, but I hope this journey will continue for awhile. The music hear sounds as youthful as it did when they were recorded, and hopefully will provide zest to a new generation of music creators who will learn vastly from the lessons on these two discs.

SOME STUFFS: ZTT Records to release second installment of “The Art Of The 12″” compilation series

The purveyors of the 12 inch, the extended remix? While there are many possible answers, somehow it all leads back to the Zed. That is ZTT, or Zee-T-T for us Americans, which of course stands for Zang Tuum Tumb, the mightiest of all almighty record labels. ZTT had released The Art Of The 12″ compilation last year, merely dipping in to touch some of the great remixers the labels had released in its history. They’re about to do it again with The Art Of The 12″, Volume Two, subtitled A Revelation of the Extended Remix and this one is looking even sweeter than the first.

The new collection will be a 2 CD collection, featuring tracks released by ZTT, previously-unreleased-but-highly-discussed mixes, along with items that have been items of desire for ZTT-afficionados for years. They include:

  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s “Two Tribes (keep the peace)” (15 minute mix)
  • Art Of Noise‘s “Moments In Love (Parts 1 & 2)” (remixed by 808 State‘s Graham Massey
  • Propaganda‘s “Dr Mabuse Der Spieler”
  • Paul McCartney‘s “Spies Like Us (12” remix by Art Of Noise) (press release states this one is previously released, so not sure if this means it’s a different version than the one on the “Spies Like Us” 12 single)
  • Godley & Creme‘s “Cry” (Trevor Horn‘s 12″ remix, previously unreleased on CD)
  • Scritti Politti‘s “Absolute” (a dub mix by Art of Noise’s Gary Langan)

    ZTT have been digging deep into their vaults for what seems like a wealth of riches, but in truth shows how much of today’s music they’ve influenced. As long as the goods are there, why not keep their history and legacy alive? The Art Of The 12″, Volume Two will be released on the 20th of February.

  • REVIEW: 808 State’s “Blueprint”

    Photobucket The CD cover acknowledges this isn’t exactly a greatest hits album, but more a “greatest bits” covering music from 1988 to the present day, and even that is putting it lightly. Can a label, even the great ZTT empire, actually fit in all of 808 State‘s greatest bits onto one compact disc? Maybe that’s not the point.

    The point here is to highlight some of 808 State’s great moments in the last 23 years, and that’s scary in itself. What you get on here is their music, a mixture of genuine hits, key album tracks, alternate takes, remixes both old and new, and perhaps a few things you’ve never heard before. It wasn’t too cocky for them to call this album Blueprint (ZTT/Salvo), for they have been influenced by many before them. When 808 State started making their impact, they did it out of a love for the TR-808 drum machine, and thus their music was a combination of a multitude of keyboard and synthesizers, mixed in with beats that were sourced from many places, combined to make music where its source and inspiration didn’t matter, you just felt the search to get down and dance. Hearing Aphex Twin‘s remix of “Flow Coma” makes it sound like the Chemical Brothers had existed back then. To put it bluntly, if electronic music sounded robotic and musicians started to create sound as if there were voices in those bloops and bleeps, then it was those voices that were going to come out of the machine, create the music and get funky in the process. The bulk of who they are originated from the different styles of dance music from Chicago and Detroit, even though up until that point had never been in the United States. That love of the perceived abandoned cold grooves in the mid-west was given warmth when embraced, which allowed the homegrown music to be reawakened and taken worldwide, and this album celebrates the reawakening and the travels the group have been able to go on.

    Hearing “Pacific” sounds as fresh as I remembered when I first heard it, what I loved was that the main synth line was at a slow tempo, and slowly you had beats that were done at double time, along with sounds that were faster and more complex. It was very British at the time, and yet rooted in the music of Chicago and Detroit. Hearing “In Yer Face”, “Timebomb”, “Qmart”, and “Cobra Bora” will remind people how they could occasionally be political without ever actually saying a word, and when it came to creating pop masterpieces, they could do it with the help of outside vocalists, but still do it to bring people into their State.

    If one were to ask for some 808 State suggestions, immediately point to Blueprint as a primer, because that’s what it was made for, and more importantly it works. While it has some of their hits and more celebrated tracks, it doesn’t have all of the hits. No “One In Ten”, no “10 X 10”, not even “Oops” is here, but if Blueprint can be the reason more people are turned on by their music, they’ll eventually get there. In the words of background vocalists on a Frankie Goes To Hollywood album, this is how we get there.

    REVIEWS: 808 State remasters

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    Zang Tuum Tumb (or Zang Tumb Tuum if you wish, ZTT for short) were responsible for 808 State‘s success around the world in the 90’s. Twenty years later, ZTT are about to release brand new remasters from the electronica group.

    I reviewed two of my favorite 808 albums, 808:90 and ex:ex. You can read a review of both discs by clicking to

    SOME STUFFS: Remasters of first four 808 State albums are released

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    Remasters of the first four 808 State albums were promised in 2008 (on 08/08/08 as the promotional campaign had promised), but the distributing label that were to release them went out of business, putting things on hold. If you didn’t experience these albums the first time, you’re now able to. If you haven’t heard them in awhile, you can enjoy each one again, with each album coming with a bonus disc of extra goodies compiled by 808 State founder Graham Massey.

    The albums in question are 808:90 (released in the U.S. on Tommy Boy as Utd. State 90), ex:el, Gorgeous, and Don Solaris, all of which went through the maniacal electronic music/electronica wave of the 1990’s and made its way through, at the same time moving dancers, music fanatics, and fellow musicians to create music on their own. The reissues will hit stores on March 22nd, with expanded and restored album artwork, extensive liner notes,

    The group will be going on tour in the UK and Europe later this year, no word yet on if they’ll do any shows stateside.