'One in Ten'
What happened to the engineering?
Ok. So I was pretty hard on the album first time around. I know I know. Sometimes fans can be the hardest critics! But, having popped Gorgeous on a few times this week (subtly undermining the work ethic while I listen to the 808 groove) I want to say a few more words. I do believe this album deserves more analysis.
So have I changed my opinion? Well, not quite. Gorgeous still lacks something but I need to look at this work on its own terms. There are those who believe this album to be one of the best examples of the post ex:el (and Martin Price) sound.
It is a diverse opus for sure. There are vocals (Europa, 10x10, Moses, One in Ten), ravey noises (10x10, Colony), fluffy excursions (Orbit), laid back jazz workouts (Black Morpheous) and samples aplenty! The disc is definitely worth a listen and it does grow on you.
So what's wrong? Well, I think that it sounds flat. The engineering sounds flat and some of the beats sound very clustered and clumped together. It doesn't always gel as a whole either. Somewhere around Orbit I always get lost in the mix. Beginning in fine form, the lads introduce a few new vocal talents and revisit the Joy Division/New Order sound. But then it kinda gets lost! That's about all I can say! It's hard to pin down but it's like there's a party going on and you're a little too drunk to really enjoy everything.
Standouts : Plan 9 (Go see 'Plan 9 from Outer space'...I'm certain it was named after this movie), Contrique (Joy Division live again in sample form here), Europa (Her voice is definitely nice and the track is smooth), Orbit (I always did like Lift and any derivatives), Nimbus (Dig that gangster bassline!), Timebomb (Short, punchy and very sequenced)
Misses : One in Ten (I just don't know...), Stormin' Norman (I just don't know what's going on here either...)
In the end, Gorgeous is a fine album because it is different. 808 State at their best don't care what other people think. Line up Newbuild, Quadrastate, 90, ex:el, Gorgeous and Don Solaris and I don't think anyone can say that they all sound alike. Gorgeous has been my scapegoat before (I'm still beatin' on Stormin' Norman no matter what!!:) but I have to admit, it sounds off some fine moments in 808 history.
Steve May 28 1999
I have to be honest and say that this is, in my opinion, the worst album. It contains a multitude of sounds and ideas but lacks the spark and originality of earlier work. Certainly there is a distinct 808 flavour here but it seems strained. Plenty of vocal collaborations, horns and samples but no core.
'Europa' is a great song, but it seems like a 'Magical Dream' reach back. 'Orbit' is fluffy musak but it sounds all too 'Lift'-like. Even the highly rated 'Plan 9' seems to owe more to 'Pacific' than inspiration.
I was never impressed with the single releases either. '10x10' is forgettable piano pop, 'Plan 9' is lush and certainly memorable but somewhat superficial while 'One in Ten' is, well, just plain awful.
And what the hell is 'Stormin' Norman'? What is that? Yelps and musical tack. Seems fitting that it featured in the equally awful 'First ever Techno' movie 'Vibrations'.
I so much want to love this album. But I can only like it. You can tell because I said more about this album than any other! I am trying!
Essential 808 collectible.