808 STATE: OUTPOST TRANSMISSION (2002)
1) 606; 2) Chopsumwong; 3) Wheatstraw; 4) Boogieman; 5) Roundbum Mary; 6) Lemonsoul; 7) Suntower; 8) Dissadis; 9) Bent; 10) Souflex; 11) Crossword; 12) Lungfoo; 13) Slowboat; 14) YoYo.
808 State's only original offering in the 21st century is... well, either it simply states that the team said it all in the 20th, or, on a more global level, states that, on his 2000th birthday, the Lord Jesus Christ declared that human art has exhausted its spiritual filling and we should all start packing and getting ready for that trumpet call. It's your choice.
I have nothing inspiring to say about Outpost Transmission. It is just another set of electronic grooves, not bad per se, but not provoking any deep thoughts or emotional reactions. Even the vocal guest spots are bland. '606' is a collaboration with Simian, another electronic bunch of fellow Mancunians, with a «choral boy-band» arrangement over a synth-pop riff that does nothing for me. 'Lemonsoul', with hushed atmospheric vocals from Guy Garvey, is slightly better, but it aims at beautiful-gorgeous and then sort of misses the mark by several inches — an aging Robin Hood can invoke pity, but can he instigate admiration? Even 'Crossword', with Rob Spragg growling over dark industrial passages, feels like a feeble, steam-less copy of what this band used to produce in the industrial vein years ago.
Entering highly subjective mode, my senses, for some reason, start radar-blipping towards the end of the record — the grooves on the last three tracks seem to at least evoke something. 'Lungfoo' has that psychedelic wobbly chiming sound that conjures various magic associations (take out the techno percussion and it's well usable in a Harry Potter soundtrack); 'Slowboat' features tons of interesting variations on another simple, but catchy magical-mysterious keyboard riff; and 'YoYo' brings things to a close on a delicately paranoid note, with visions of Big Brother emerging out of its troubled notes.
Or maybe not, and it's all just a matter of extra-clicking on random tracks in order to squeeze out a few more meaningless words. Whatever. Fact is, not even the fans seem to like this record much; and the other fact — namely, that, despite still hanging together, 808 State have not come up with a proper follow-up to Transmission in a whoppin' ten years — implies that, perhaps, Massey and Co. simply got tired of pretending to be as smart and creative as everybody used to think they were. So, thumbs down, although still a must for completists and tireless studiosos of positive-negative charge fluctuations in processor chips.
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