‘Blueprint’: the best of the pioneering 808 State
03:42 am


808 State
best of

“Pacific State” by Dawn Gardner
From the beginning “rave” was supposed to be a faceless musical form rebelling against the cock-and-coke excesses of 80s hair metal, and the drab “woe is me” insularity of indie rock. The emphasis was to be taken off the performer, and turned back onto the all-important audience who, in this new era of dancing and drug taking, were the true stars. For the most part this anonymity was the norm, to the point where acts became almost interchangeable, and the distinct whiff of novelty began to creep in. The name of the act with the rave version of “Hong Kong Phooey” may be lost to history now, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Despite face masks and aversion to Smash Hits interviews, there were a few acts of the rave era who managed to become recognisable brands in their own right. 808 State were arguably the first and definitely one of the best, building up a devoted fan base through relentless touring and a series of great albums and singles released at the tail end of the 80s and throughout the Nineties. You might not recognise any of these guys if they passed you in the street, but their music has become iconic in its own right.

The band formed in mid-80s Manchester around a nucleus of Factory stalwart Graham Massey, Eastern Bloc-owner Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, who would later leave to peruse his own successful career under the name A Guy Called Gerald. 808 State were one of the first acts to take rave out of the clubs and fields and into the British charts, and by extension the nation’s living rooms, with influential hits like “Pacific State” (a chill out classic and the birth of ambient house) and “Cubik” (whose riff is to dance music what “Louie Louie” is to rock’n'roll). Back in school in the early Nineties, a few of us would pass round a cassette of the 808 State album ex:el, its rock hard beats and swooshing synths fuelling our imaginations to what raving might actually be like, long before we ever could. Twenty years later and I know that we weren’t the only kids listening.

Now the Manchester pioneers have released a sort of-best of compilation that pulls together some of their career’s highlights alongside a bunch of unreleased bit-and-pieces, remixes and previously unreleased out-takes. 808 State were a huge influence on the second wave of UK dance pioneers from the mid-Nineties, like Autechre, Orbital, Future Sound Of London and Aphex Twin and even a quick scan through their list of non-dance collaborators proves the kind of respect the band command. Blueprint kicks off with a remix of 1988 “Flow Coma” by Aphex Twin, it features liner notes by Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll and elsewhere on the album you’ll find spots from Brain Eno, Bjork, Trevor Horn, Ian McCulloch, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Manic Street Preacher’s James Dean Bradfield.

Blueprint is a good album, and one recommended for long term fans and newcomers alike, though I’m still waiting for a straight-up greatest hits comp with the original extended 12” mixes of these classic tracks. Alternatively, I might just go and pick up the remastered, double CD packages of four of their original albums (90, ex:el, Gorgeous and Don Solaris), which have all been re-issued with bonus material and are available from the official 808 State website. The band are also currently giving away a free “21st Anniversary” remix of “Cubik”, which you can get right here:


808 State’s music still sounds great after all these years, whether you simply want to travel back to a different, more innocent, era or even if you want pumping-up, ready for action in the right now. The intro to “In Yer Face” (an all-time, hands down dance classic) is still chillingly prescient to this very day, a reminder that maybe the past wasn’t so innocent after all, that we’re still facing some of the very same problems today:

There are new forces in the world
A conflict between the generations
A powerful feeling that the American system
is failing to deal with the real threats to life…

808 State “In Yer Face”

808 State Blueprint is available here. The remastered 808 State albums are available from the band’s website, click the album titles above for direct links.

After the jump, some more 808 State classics, including “Pacific State”, “Cubik”, “Olympic”, “Flow Coma” remixed by Aphex Twin and more…

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Techno don Legowelt releases new album for free

Fans of electronica might recognise the name Legowelt. Danny Wolfers has been releasing quality analog techno and electro since 1996 on respected labels like Ghostly International and Clone. His sound is heavily influenced by Detroit techno and Chicago house, as well as early 80s Italo disco and 70s electronic horror soundtracks, and his studio set-up puts live sequencing and classic synths above digital trickery. On the Legowelt Wikipedia page, he describes his sound as “a hybrid form of slam jack combined with deep Chicago house, romantic ghetto technofunk and EuroHorror Soundtrack.”

Now Wolfers has just released his new album, The Teac Life, for free through his own website. He has this to say about it, and the state of modern techno - it’s definitely Not Safe For Work:

Ok people here it is the new Legowelt album which is free to download for u all.
Its got a hella lot [of] deep tape saturated forest-techno tracks on it and when I say Techno i don’t mean that boooooooooooring contemporary shit they call techno nowadays with overrated talentless pretentious douchebag cunt DJs playing a few half-assed dumb mongo beats and being all arty fartsy about it.

F*ck that, I am talking about: Raw as fuck autistic Star Trek 1987 - Misty Forests- X-FILES - DETROIT unicorn futurism made on cheap-ass digital & analog crap synthesizers recorded in a ragtag bedroom studio on a TEAC VHX cassettedeck in DOLBY C with an unintelligible yet soulfull vivacity.

Electronic music fans and analog synth freaks, this is a must. Wolfers is the real deal. If you’re a fan of John Carpenter soundtracks and the pre-pop Human League, the early output of labels like Warp and Rephlex, or even just strange homemade lo-fi music, there is much to enjoy here. You can listen to The Teac Life exclusively on the Legowelt website, or you can download the album from this link. In the meantime, here’s a great fan video of Legowelt’s “Into The Storm” (not on the album) featuring footage from 1967 Soviet horror flick Viy:

Legowelt - “Into The Storm”

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Download Ghostface Killah bootleg album ‘Ghostfunk’ for free

Ghostfunk is a Ghostface Killah mashup album by the producer Max Tannone, who describes it thusly:

Released in July 2011, Ghostfunk pairs one of my favorite hip-hop artists, Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, with vintage African funk, high-life, and psychedelic rock music.

This is really good, and definitely worthy of a free download. You can get it from Max’s website or directly from this link.

Ghostfunk by Max Tannone
Thanks Tara McGinley!

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Get Ssion’s new album ‘Bent’ free for a month

Meet Ssion, the gender bending electro-punk dance band from Kansas City, led by front person Cody Critcheloe. Is Cody a man or a woman? I’m not completely sure, but it’s not important - s/he can be whatever you want hir to be. And as with other current queer artists like JD Samson, Cody likes to play with people’s traditional perceptions of style and beauty - witness the trademark combo monobrow and mustache, a pretty risqué fashion move in these anti-hair-biased times

Ssion (pronounced “shun”) are a full on audio/visual/performance-troupe well known for their live shows and support slots for the likes of Gossip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Critcheloe has been making a respectable career as a video director on the side, working with Peaches, Liars and Scream Club. Ssion formed in Kansas in 1996 and released their first material in 2003. The band released their last album Fools Gold in 2007 and with it the full length feature film Boy which compiled all their music videos and has been described as a “gay, punk rock equivalent of Forest Gump.” Ssion have taken the step of releasing their new album Bent as a free download for a limited time, and it’s definitely worth downloading. As with Tyler the Creator’s first album Bastard, it’s surprising to hear music released for free that is of this high quality.

Make no mistake though - Bent is pop music. It’s party music, it’s designed for dancing - for those moments at a friend’s house when the sun is coming up, you’ve had a ball, but you’ve got that melancholic feeling that to quit now as it’s can’t get any better. There are shades of very early Madonna here, coupled with the classic mid-80s synth driven sound of the Pet Shop Boys and Eurodisco, all refracted through early 90s NY dance pop like Deee-Lite. Bent is basically the album the Scissor Sisters should have made by now, classy dance music stripped of the chintz (and Elton bloody John references) and honed to a sharp electro-pop point. It’s pretty damn good. So my advice to you dear readers is to let a little bit of Ssion into your life - get Bent.

Ssion - “Clown”

Ssion - “Psy-Chic”

Ssion - “Luvvbazaar”

Ssion - “Credit In The Straight World” Excellent cover of


Young Marble Giants.

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Netlabels: Black Lantern Music
04:11 pm



Black Lantern Music is a British netlabel that folks in the States probably haven’t heard, but should. Based in Edinburgh, and launched in late 2009, the label deals in hip-hop, electronica, dubstep, breakbeat and jazz. The bastard children of Grant Morrison’s late 90s sigil experiments and early Rawkus, with a healthy love of poetry and politics, It is closely associated with the Weaponizer website (well worth a read when you have a few spare hours). The label mostly centers around the work of artists Texture, Morphamish, Asthmatic Astronaut and Harelquinade, who have a supergroup of sorts called the Chemical Poets, also featuring the producer Gung Who and the MC Tickle. Although they’re not even two years old yet, the catalog has swelled to a very impressive 32 releases. Here’s a selection of what’s on offer:

Texture is Bram Gleiben, the main man behind both Black Lantern and Weaponizer. A talented MC and veteran of the Scottish poetry slam scene (yes, such a thing exists), he addresses the “non-sequitur” of the idea of “Scottish hip-hop” on the track of the same name, which opens the Synaesthesia EP. The production comes from Salem Anders and fellow BL artist Morphamish, and guest vocals come from Little Rock‘s Kid Ritalin.

That man Morphamish again, this time hitting hard with the 3 track Urge Mode EP. This is heavy dancefloor dubstep, with Morphamish showing off his very impressive production chops that equal of anyone else on the current UK mainstream dubstep scene:

Church of When The Shit Hits The Fan is a collaboration between the Edinburgh MC Harlequinade, and the producer Asthamatic Astronaut. Taking its cues from industrial and electro, this is still very much hip-hop, with a political and esoteric bent:

That should be enough to pique your interest - there is lots more where that came from, with releases from Scottish hip-hop veterans Eaters, laidback jazz from Daddy Scrabble, the incredibly named Shit Hop Ninja Terminatorz, and some guy called Metatron.


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Tyler The Creator: ‘Bastard’ LP free download

Depending on how much you loved or hated Richard’s post about Odd Future live on Jimmy Kimmel, oops I mean Jimmy Fallon, you might be interested to know that the debut album by Tyler The Creator (kingpin of that crew) is available as a free download from the Odd Future blog**. Released at the very tail end of 2009 (presumably to foil end of year lists) rumor has it that Bastard has had over a million downloads at this point. This doesn’t seem so far fetched. It might explain why the hype is so strong for Tyler, and how Odd Future got on Jimmy Fallon in the first place. Tyler’s new single “Yonkers” (not bad but not his best work) is also gaining a lot of hype, not least due to the video, and his follow up to Bastard is set to drop in April.

Hip-hop hasn’t been pushing sonic boundaries in the last few years, for me anyway, but it’s great to see it pushing other envelopes. The album brings to mind memories of late 90s Rawkus records, acts like Cannibal Ox and Anti-Pop Consortium/Beans and even vaguely the detuned synth-styles of the RZA, updated here for the Garageband/soft-synth age. I really like some of his music, but what I like most about Tyler is his methods of getting himself out there, creating a buzz without having to resort to the usual mainstream channels. Of course, if his music was terrible it would be different, but as it is, he might become the most high profile emerging artist yet to give away his product for free.

** Looks like the original upload has expired. You can still find Bastard for download very easily though, at links like this one. The Odd Future blog is worth having a look at, for other releases and general wackiness.

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Entire back catalog of Plan B magazine available for free download
05:23 am


music press
Everett True
Plan B magazine

Plan B was an independent British music magazine that ran from 2004 to 2009. It was founded by Editor-in-Chief Everett True, one-time editor of both the Melody Maker and Vox magazine, as an antithesis of the mainstream press like the New Musical Express. Duly, it covered a diverse range of left-leaning music, had in-depth features from great writers, excellent illustrations, and was printed on heavy grade paper. Even though it only lasted for 46 issues Plan B felt like the last great hurrah of the British printing press, when people cared about the content they were placing in your hands. The entire back catalog of the magazine is now available via torrent from the Plan B website, and is highly recommended for anyone who likes quality, opinionated music writing. Everett True now runs the website Collapse Board, which is also highly recommended, not just for its criticisms of current music media practices (and the free press), but for highly subjective pieces like “Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and the pernicious influence of Pitchfork”.

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06:00 pm



In the first part of this on going series, I explained what a netlabel is, and gave some background on the set up of our own netlabel, Little Rock Records. For the second part I have decided to cover the daddy of them all, the netlabel that inspired me to start up my own, Leipzig’s digital reggae/free download heroes Jahtari.

It was after being shown the website back in 2006 by my friends in Mungo’s Hi-Fi that the penny dropped - I really could do everything needed to get music out there without the aid of another label.  All I needed was someone who could build me a website where I could host music for people to download. The concept of net labels had been floating around before, but nobody had done it as well as Jahtari, with such a coherent outlook and music policy. They took it to another level.
Mikey Murka “Sensi Addict” JTR NET 08

As the name would suggest, Jahtari is a combination of old school computing and dub/reggae. In particular, the classic King Jammy/Wayne Smith-style digital reggae sounds of the mid-80s (records like “Sleng Teng” and “Walk Like Granny”), largely made on Casio keyboards, but here compressed even lower into 8-bit jams. The design is classic reggae styles, refracted through an 8-bit prism, and combined with a love of arcade games like Kong. Most importantly for me was the format - “Net 7s”, a free download which comes packaged like a physical 7 inch record, with an A side and a B side (often a dub version), and corresponding inlay sticker art. When I first encountered Jahtari in early 2007, they already had a large catalog of free releases available, releases I plundered greedily. Yes, there is a slight tongue-in-cheek vibe about the label’s presentation - which is not out of place considering that this is reggae made by a bunch of white Germans - but the music is as high quality an hommage to digital-dancehall as you will find anywhere in the world.
Disrupt “Arcade Addict” JTR NET 08

Jahtari was founded in 2004 by Jan Gleichmar, who records as Disrupt, and who provides the backbone of the Jahtari catalog. Apart from Jan (who has worked with some seriously talented MCs like Mikey Murka, Solo Banton, El Fata and Soom T) the artists’ roster also includes Bo Marley, Dubmood, Roots Ista Posse and the Jahtari Riddim Force. The label doesn’t just deal in free downloads, having expanded into vinyl, tapes and CDs over the years, and now has a 7inch (physical) offshoot label called Maffi. Well, you gotta earn a crust.

There are 20 net 7s and 10 net EPs you can download for free from the website, and it all comes highly recommended. If you like the sounds of the Mikey Murka vocal / Disrupt dub tracks in this post, you will like the rest of the catalog, so my advice is just to jump over to their website now and get downloading.

But if you want to hear more music first, there’s more after the jump…

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