“Altern 8 occupy a unique position in dance music history…”
Moby, Los Angeles, 2016
It all started back in 1988, when Mark Archer cut his teeth with Rhythm Mode D then moving on to form Bizarre Inc. in 1989 Although, he didn’t stick around long with the band, Archer received massive critical acclaim – and a few chart placings – for his second project, Nexus 21. It was while Nexus 21 were dabbling with some of the harder Belgian sounds around at the time, that Network Records owner Neil Rushton suggested the formation of a second act, so that some of this hardcore dance could be unleashed… Altern8 were born!
Altern 8 were a joyous mix of some rather eclectic influences. It sounded so simple and fun and yet the music was deceptively complex. Altern 8 went interstellar with a bunch of hit singles and the album Full-On Mask Hysteria, which hit number 10 in the charts. For a while the unlikely lads from Stafford were jetting around the globe with the likes of Moby, as Altern 8 captured the imaginations of ravers everywhere.
Eventually, the house lights came up on Altern 8 and Archer and Peat went their separate ways. Archer then emerged from the hardcore scene with SloMoshun, an act he formed with Danny Taurus. Bells of New York became compilation mainstays and Archer’s prowess at the production desk once again came to the fore with this more refined take on electronic music. Archer then followed up SloMoshun with solo projects Trackman, Xen Mantra and DJ Nex, which rooted our man right back to the underground that he loved so much, as he started to ply his trade as a DJ; something he started to enjoy just as much as making music. The man has been busy ever since.
The past 30 years has seen Archer firmly established as a UK dance music legend. His book The Man Behind The Mask was released in 2016 with a host of famous contributors including Moby, the man Archer toured Brazil with back in the day. The book was a chance for Archer to let that famous dust mask drop, thus revealing the man beneath. The book was warmly received, described by one reviewer as one of the best autobiographies he’d read that year.
Today, Archer can still be seen in that famous luminous mask as Altern 8, although the name Mark Archer pulls crowds just as big, Dynamic duo Shadow Child and Mark Archer regularly work together under their own names or as MASC. The latest release is rave romp ‘Morse Code’ and no amount of emergency messages are going to save our souls!
An absolutely awesome collaboration, the force between Shadow Child and Altern-8 don and all-round rave pioneer Mark Archer has been strong for some time now. First appearing on Rhythm Trax together under their MASC guise in 2018 with almighty techno headbutt ‘Non Stop’, they returned two years later in early 2020 with equally fired-up ‘Return Of The MASC’ EP. This was closely followed by the Grandstand EP on FOOD musics off-shoot Takeout. This release featured a collab with Hip-House legend, Dj Fast Eddie Smith. All the EPs were celebrated and savoured at the levels you’d expect.
Two years later and the pair return to our speakers this time on Catz ‘n Dogz Pets imprint and they’re armed with two more unruly late night tear-ups. ‘Morse Code’ hits with that classic detuned synth sound that smacks of a million Fantazias and is driven by a quirky, memorable spoken word sample. ‘Toto’ plays the consummate foil with a ridiculously bulbous and addictive bass riff that shines and slaps with the sound and energy of both artists.
Bizarre Inc., Nexus 21, Altern 8, Trackman, Slo Moshun, Xen Mantra, DJ Nex, MASC… Mark Archer has been making and spinning, the finest dance music for an incredible 34 years. Now, that is something to CELEBR8!