Here are the facts:
Setup notes (added 6 February 2005)
Rip-off or straight-up cultural exchange between the USA and Manchester? Graham Massey was never entirely sure. But one thing remains certain - a glitch occurred in the transatlantic transfer of ideas and 1988's "NEWBUILD" was the product.
As a group, Massey, Martin Price and (A Guy Called) Gerald Simpson were never primarily interested in the increasing amount of dance music that was making its way out of Chicago and Detroit and towards Manchester between '86 and '88. The idea of "jacking" records meant little to 808 STATE. It was only with the advent of the full-on mental weirdness of the Acid that the real connection was made and flashpoint achieved.
These were alien sounds. Sounds without cultural baggage. Sounds that didn't feel the need to sound real. These were the days before Roland had its renaissance. No-one wanted drum machines that sounded like drum machines. The 808, 909 and 303 were the slices of redundant technology you'd easily find at Johnny Roadhouse and other second-hand music shops around Manchester. 808 STATE'S technology on this album was far from "hi". Hi-tech meant expensive, which meant out of the question. Original Acid house like this became a necessity for three simple reasons; inspiration, affordability and availability.
Music of the future made by virtually redundant boxes might seem quite quaint now, but "NEWBUILD" was made before computers dominated production. All the sounds on this album, bar a few, are triggered by the drum machine. This is why you can hear mistakes on the album as it was laid down live to two-track tape recorder. Incidentally, the master tape, long-since disintegrated, was nicked out of a skip from the back of the BBC, Manchester. It had been spliced and diced heavily enough to get binned, even before 808 got their hands on it.
The great thing about "NEWBUILD" now is that it hasn't been diminished by the passage of time. It's still dirty, cavernous, messy, full of mistakes and profoundly f***ed up - Acid house from a brief period before it all went loved-up, blissed-out, whatever. "NEWBUILD" is unhinged, genuinely lysergic, made all the more vivid by the overwhelming sense of optimism that a new music was being formed right here and right now. The tyranny of formula had not yet made its presence felt on the scene.
The injustice, if you're looking for it, is that out of that whole Manchester scene of the time, the Inspiral Carpets and the Stone Roses are seen as history's heroes. All the while, Gerald's "Voodoo Ray" and 808's "NEWBUILD" were championing a whole new way of making music, a music that had no reference and didn't need or want anything to do with guitars.
Listening to "NEWBUILD" today, it still sounds righteous, necessary and inspired - the blueprint for any musician looking to start off n the right foot. Not even "Acid Tracks" itself sounds as good today as a track like "Narcossa".
Not bad for an album named after a housing project in Bolton.