We Love Music Vol 4

WLD Music

Full On… Mask Hysteria was released on 13 July 1992, and is the only album to be issued by the British rave duo, Altern-8. Altern-8 were for me the first rave/dance music artists to break through into the mainstream around 1990. They looked and sounded different to the usual rave music producers at the time. And there visual approach using masks when performing made them stand out more than other artists at that time.

Altern-8 is a British rave duo, featuring Mark Archer and Chris Peat. Best known in the early 1990s, their trademark was loud electronic tracks with a heavy bass line. On stage and in music videos, such as that for “Evapor-8”, Altern-8’s members wore facemasks and chemical warfare suits. The band was signed to Network Records based in Stratford House, Birmingham, England.

Altern-8 was formed in Stafford in 1990, as a side project to the already successful Nexus 21 (a name chosen because of its “futuristic house sound”), when both members were aged 21. From the outset, the band’s objective was to develop their style which was influenced by the musical elements of Detroit techno artists Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, as well as the Chicago house music sound of Phuture and early electronic pioneers such as Kraftwerk, although the claim that they were led by American artists at the time is completely at odds with the text tribute found in the inlay of their first album which actually credits Manchester-based British acid house group 808 State by thanking them for starting the UK rave scene. Nexus 21 produced one album, The Rhythm of Life.

Altern-8 tunes influenced many artists, with their mixture of the sounds of the Roland TB-303, 808 and 909 with break-beats and familiar samples. At the time in the UK, outdoor rave events were legal, and Altern-8 had a reputation for turning up to play at major unofficial events. They helped to define harder house tracks relying more heavily on bass and volume. The use of more bass and eclectic noises gradually evolved Altern-8’s music away from the earlier house music style. The duo, dressed in chemical warfare suits and dancing “like electrified monkeys”, took part in a large number of live performances.