Frank Owen
May 17, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

ex:el

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
Producers
Tommy Boy
genre
Electronic

We gave it a B+

Named after the Roland TR-808 drum machine, this fresh-faced quartet from Manchester, England, is easy to dismiss as another bunch of high-tech Eurowimps. Nevertheless, there’s a subtle beauty to the group’s dance-oriented, largely instrumental mood music that has led British critics to label it ”New Age house music” — a style characterized by dreamy, electronic washes of sound underpinned by earth-shaking beats. Long on atmospherics and texture but short on hooks and tunes, this is highly energized Muzak, which 808 State make brilliantly, creating hypnotic, trance-inducing soundscapes. Unlike most music of its kind, ex:el works nearly as well in the privacy of your living room as it does in a crowded nightclub. At last, a dance-music album for stay-at-home types who have to get up in the morning. B+

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