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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 heroes 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 techno pioneers 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.
Notable Altern-8 tracks included "Activ-8", "E-vapor-8", "Frequency", "Brutal-8-E", "Armageddon", "Move My Body", "Hypnotic St-8" and "Infiltrate 202". The band released an album on the Network Records label in 1992, called Full On... Mask Hysteria. In 1991, the band did a live PA in the car park outside the then-famous Shelley's night club in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent (near to their home town of Stafford), which can be seen in their "Activ-8 (Come With Me)" video.
However, when hardcore-styled rave music went out of fashion, they started to get involved in the development of commercial house music. In 1992, Peat stood as a candidate for the Stafford constituency in the General Election representing the Hardcore (Altern8-ive) party. He received 158 votes and finished in fourth place.
In 1994, Peat and Archer parted ways. Archer continued to DJ under the name Altern-8 until Peat declined permission to use the Altern-8 name and trademarks.
The 2001 DJ mix album Old Skool Euphoria, part of the Euphoria series of albums, was mixed by Archer using the Altern-8 pseudonym, although, as the album's mixing is simply credited to Altern-8, this is only speculation. Nonetheless, the album's list of shout outs in the liner notes are credited as being shout outs from "Mark Archer Altern 8". The album itself is a double album of various "old skool" acid house and rave music produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The album includes two Altern-8 songs.
From Andrew Harrison of Select magazine as printed in the Infiltr-8 America ep:
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TAKE ALTERN-8 SERIOUSLY? It's impossible not to. Because behind the rave pantomime and the giant robots and the mask hysteria, this is music for a different generation. These people never wasted their lives waiting for the next punk to arrive. 1988 was their Year Zero. And it's still here. All you have to do is close your eyes.
This is about people with Kraftwerk and Pierre, Transmat and WARP, 808, 909 and 303 encoded in their DNA. This is a live transmission of the beat you can't defeat, sampled over and over and hideously mutated. If you don't understand it, you don't deserve to. This is the phuture, right now, and THIS is the sound of Altern-8.
For the duo's career as Nexus 21, see Nexus 21#Discography.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Full On... Mask Hysteria||11|
DJ mix albums
|"The Vertigo EP"|
|"Infiltr-8 America EP"|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1991||"Infiltrate 202"||28||—||—||—||Full On... Mask Hysteria|
|"Activ 8 (Come With Me)"||3||—||—||—|
(Guest vocal P. P. Arnold)
(Altern-8 vs Evelyn King)
|"Brutal-8-E"||43||—||—||—||Full On... Mask Hysteria|
|2013||"Activ 8 (Come With Me)"
|"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released.|
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 508. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Interview with Mark Archer http://www.spannered.org/music/1751/
- "Activ 8 Christmas No1 could be an Altern 8 choice". Express and Star. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- "Altern8 > UK Charts". Officialcharts.com/ Official Charts Company.
- Peak positions for the Dance singles in the UK:
- Peak positions for the featured singles in Scotland: