Altern-8 was a verging-on-the-cartoonish rave outfit that pushed their singles into the British charts with promotional theatrics borrowed from the KLF and attention-getting surgical masks and chemical-warfare uniforms from head to toe. Their catchy, energetic dance tunes combined breakbeats and heavy electronic basslines with familiar samples ranging from disco diva vocals to Detroit techno anthems like Rhythim Is Rhythim's "Strings of Life."
Originally formed by Mark Archer and Chris Peat as a side-gig from their Nexus 21 project, Altern-8 debuted with two EPs, 1990's Overload and the following year's Evapor 8. The singles "Activ 8 (Come with Me)" and "Evapor 8" both nicked the rave-hungry Top Ten during late 1991 and early 1992, thanks in part to a variety of group-sponsored, press-publicized half-truths -- the duo's reliance on drug-enhancing chemicals like Vicks Vapo-Rub, their nasty habit of spiking audience-distributed pastries with Ecstasy, even their candidacy in the General Elections. The LP Full On - Mask Hysteria followed later in 1992, and Altern-8 even managed a brief American contract (two EPs on Capitol, Infiltr-8 America and Brutal-8-E) before breaking up in 1993. Archer later produced as Slo-Moshun with Danny Taurus.
In 2001, Archer (billed as Altern-8) mixed a double CD of rave classics titled Old Skool Euphoria. Later in the decade, the duo reunited and made several appearances at dance music festivals across the U.K., introducing their sound (and masks) to the newer generations of ravers. In 2013, "Activ 8 (Come with Me)" was reissued with several new remixes in an attempt to get the song to number one at Christmas (it only made it to number 33). Full On - Mask Hysteria was given a deluxe vinyl reissue in 2016, including new mixes and songs that weren't on the original release. ~ John Bush & Paul Simpson