Friday, March 2, 2007

808 State

And now for something completely different, I give you electronic group 808 State (Yes, named after the Roland TR-808), formed in Manchester, England around '88. They are of I guess you could call the Acid House genre but...well, I'm bad with genres. And names and things in general. I discovered 808 State through a collaboration with Björk on one of their songs (Ooops), as well as some of Björk's released songs (go figure, as Björk is the queen of collaboration as well as ridiculous award-wear garb). So here is one song.

mp3: Mooz


I'm asking a serious question. Where is it? I feel like I hear a steady beat of count 1 and 3, but then later it seems like what is the back-beat could actually be beats 1 and 3. Seriously. It changes. For at least three years, I've thought the beat landed the first way, and the last two have left me wondering if it's really the other way. Now I'm starting to wonder if it's both and we're just not supposed to figure it out. I'm not crazy, right?!

Anybody who can give me a satisfying answer gets some sort of a prize.

And aside from not knowing where the beat is, I greatly enjoy this song. I like heavy beats anywhere, especially when those strong beats are back-beats (which, they might be in this song, at least some of the time?). And juxtaposition of beats with bright sounds. The unintelligible vocals are pretty cool, too.

To be quite honest, though, I love songs where it takes me a few tries to figure out where the beat is. It gives my brain something to do, something more to listen for.

It's difficult to categorize 808 State. Maybe they sound a bit old-school for what people are used to these days, but that's probably exactly why I like them (I've been noticing recently that have a soft spot for out-dated crap). I think they are very "real" sounding in a lot of ways, but in contrast to some fairly unconventional sounds that lead them to be a little quirky. If you listen to enough of their songs, you'll pick up that their most consistent and unifying sound feature is the fundamental type of sound (via keyboards, synths, somewhat organic and plain-sounding), whereas the actual songs in their structure and layering are complex and very different from one another. To refer back to their "real" sounds, I've noticed that they integrate real instrument sounds for a reasonable sum of their music (regular band-setting instruments like guitar, also sax, strings), as opposed to using strictly electronic sounds. And the real seems to alternate with the electronic a lot. Cool stuff.

Enough rambling. Here are some more sounds for your ears.

mp3: Joyrider

mp3: Ooops (with Björk)

1 comment:

treble_head said...

about the beat. There is a drum and bass drum line initially, then underlying it is a slow hip-hoppish breakbeat, but it is put to start on the quarter note of the measure. (sort of step 5 out of 16) or 2 of 4. I've experimented like that before, and I can almost assure you that they were bringing in the sample, laid it wrong and went "oooh!"