A pioneer of the acid house sound, 808 State formed in Manchester, England in 1988 when Martin Price, the owner of the city’s legendary record store Eastern Bloc and the founder of the independent label Creed, first joined forces with local musician and producer Graham Massey. After teaming with collaborator Gerald Simpson, 808 State recorded its debut EP Newbuild in 1988, and also began remixing tracks for groups like the Inspiral Carpets. After Simpson exited to form his solo project ‘A Guy Called Gerald’, Price and Massey enlisted DJs Andrew Barker and Darren Partington (known together as the Spinmasters) for the recording of 1989’s Quadrastate EP, which earned the group a huge club hit with the track “Pacific.”
After signing with ZTT, they released the album 808:90, which was embraced by the burgeoning rave culture. 808 State’s next single, “The Only Rhyme That Bites,” recorded with hip-hopper MC Tunes, marked a dramatic shift into hardcore rap, but was another huge hit.
A series of diverse singles followed, culminating in the 1991 album Ex: El, which featured guest vocals from New Order’s Bernard Sumner and Bjork; the same year, 808 State also wrote, produced and performed the music for the MC Tunes LP The North at Its Heights. In 1992, Price left to work as a solo producer, later forming his own label, Sun Text. The remaining trio continued on in 1993 with Gorgeous, and handled remix work for the likes of David Bowie, Soundgarden, and Bomb the Bass before returning with the experimental Don Solaris in 1996. The 808:88-98 compilation followed two years later.