808 State - Quadrastate

 Back in 1989, this ground breaking EP was to put 808 State into orbit, as the UK Electronic answer to the House revolution coming from Chicago. And it did proudly, with a bold and self-affirmative cover design.

On a musical point of view, Graham Massey and his posse were not only having a general public hit, (airing at BBC 1 with "Pacific State"). They also were influencing people into a more techno sound. Even if they were part of the Acid House craze that had submerged England since Summer Of Love (1988), their sound was more about synths and melodies, than to the formulaic Roland TB 303+TR 808. And beyond this more proto-techno approach, this EP did, in a way, set in motion the idea of Ambient House that The Orb would herald later that year. 
Back Cover
Label (side A)

On a visual point of view, the design was done by Mick Peek (of Peek Design), and was the continuation of what Johnson/Pannas produced for 808 State's first LP "NewBuilt", released in summer 1988, and co-written then by Gerald Simpson (yes, the Guy Called Gerald that did "Voodoo Ray", who was then a member of the band).
In fact, as Massey explains, Trevor johnson was too busy to take the job, and 808 state asked a guy working in the same building, Mick Peek, to do it...
The design was pushed further into a less typo+graphic one, even if the 808 logo remained prominent, and became iconic.
Newbuild LP (Front) - 1988

Newbuild LP (Back) - 1988
Graham Massey explained the story behind this "Newbuild" design : 
"Newbuild is based on an old kodak film box. I took that and the Mexico olympics type to Johnson & Panas (MCR designers) and they put it together".
At the occasion of the 10th anniversary of "Quadrastate", both EP and  LP were reissued by Rephlex : co-founder Richard D. James, of Aphex Twin fame, often confesses how influencial this album was, and beyond the music, the cover itself may have contributed to this influencial status : it still is very impactful,  and in 1988, it was a stark contrast compared to the dull Acid House covers...
Note that this repress on Rephlex has a slightly different cover, and a set of additional tracks.
Rephlex re-release (front)
Rephlex re-release (back)
Rephlex re-release (booklet)

Rephlex re-release (booklet)

Few month later, following the success of "Pacific State", 808 State signed a contract with ZTT (Trevor Horn's label), and released its "808:90" album, with another classic design of this era, but in a much more classical Pop style.

Final installment in the serie, Rephlex also released the "Prebuild"LP in 2004 : an album featuring demos, lives and outtakes from 808 State from 1987 to 1988. Still with a variation of the original cover.




All in all, these 1989 designs were bold and strictly structured. It did play a role into expressing that these Mancunians guys wanted to bring a proud response to the US. And it also showed how linked they were to the Manchester graphic school, as heralded by Factory Records for example.

Oh! I was about to forget to mentions the nod from TDR to this design, when they created the design of The whole LFO visual identity for their great "Advance" LP and the "Tied Up" single. But this striking and refined design will deserve another post ;-)

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