|Invisible Jukebox: Graham Massey|
Every month we play a musician a series of records which they're asked to identify and comment on - with no prior knowledge of what they're about to hear.
This month it's the turn of...
Graham Massey (808 State) Tested by Dave Haslam
Graham Massey is a founder member of Manchester's 808 State. His early group, Biting Tongues, recorded for Factory Records during the mid-1980s. His work with Darren Partington and Andrew Barker in 808 State dates back to 1987. Despite scoring hits with singles like "Pacific State", "In Yer Face", and "Cubik", their tangled collisions of studio technology and dance culture energy have given them a reputation for releasing uncommercial, uncompromising recordings. The fluidity gained through the group's history of collaborations they've worked with A Guy Called Gerald, MC Tunes and Bjork in the past - is mirrored by the trio's own ceaseless extra-curricular activities. As The Spinmasters, Partington and Barker DJ in clubs and on Manchester's Kiss 102 radio station, while Massey was involved in writing and producing Bjork's Post LP. Their remix credits include work for Quincy Jones, REM, Jon Hassell, Primal Scream and David Bowie. The trio have just released Don Solaris, their fifth LP, on ZTT.
A GUY CALLED GERALD
[After about 1 5 seconds] It's Gerald. I win a fiver! I bet someone a fiver you'd play me a Gerald track! It's one of the tracks off Black Secret Technology. That album for me has got that thing I was talking about with Herbie Hancock, of not being able to absorb it, of being so multi-layered and drawn out and colourful.
It's funny what Gerald used to listen to. He used to go to Longsight library like myself and borrow the records. He used to come back with Chick Corea LPs, and we'd share things like Tania Maria LPs. So in the period when we first got together as a group, under the guise of dance music, we were listening to a lot of 70s stuff really.
The great thing about Gerald is that he's completely autonomous. He lives in Gerald world. No industry person could ever get near him or deal with him because it was too much hassle. You could do a great Jackson Five type cartoon of Gerald in Gerald world. Despite that dispute we had with Gerald when he filed for 100 per cent of the writing credits for "Pacific State" - which I still think is completely outrageous - I have a lot fondness for him. I should hate him.
The thing about music technology is that it has enabled people like Gerald or Aphex Twin to make music alone in their studios, whereas before they'd never have made music because they could never have functioned in a group.
Exactly. Gerald never felt comfortable about being in a group when we first did 808 State. God knows why we formed a group, I think it was largely to do with the fact that he had a drum machine and I had a keyboard that we got lumped in as a band.
This track's called "Voodoo Rage".
What's he raging about now? There's bound to be some sort of story to do with someone's misdemeanour.
Drum 'n' bass covers a very wide territory now, with one version with obvious roots in Ambient music, it's all a bit soft and sunny, and one which is much more raw, dark; real hard, booming stuff. Where do you think this sits?
You can go a lot rawer than Gerald. It's head music, really, it's got much more of a head element than a lot of Jungle. It has got authenticity about it, though, it's certainly not just pissing about with technology. He's transcended pissing about with technology and it's second nature to him now, the technology, so he is actually expressing himself. To me it sounds like hours and hours of staying up all night in the studio, whereas a lot of Jungle records are made on limited budgets when there's a chance of a few hours studio time and a borrowed sampler That's a lot more like it was when we started working together. When me and Gerald were making records together if we had the chance of six hours of studio time we'd go in and do it. I've got tapes and tapes of me and Gerald that have never been put out. We used to hammer out a C90 and take it down to Jon Da Silva DJing at the Hacienda, and he used to play it off cassette to 1500 people E'd up. It's like you were saying about the T-Coy record, it was really primitive, one beat and a bassline, tweaking Acid stuff, but at that point it was completely acceptable We used to churn it out like wallpaper.
[Author: Dave Haslam]