The Burden brothers aka Octave One release an album of favourites remixed by their favourite producers. Brendon P reviews and interviews the beloved duo as we welcome in the year 2012 on the right note.
The letter 'L' and the phrase 'band of brothers' apply in every sense, to Octave One. Fronted primarily by Lenny and Lawrence Burden, and creatively added on by input from the other Burden brothers Lynell, Lome and Lance, it is totally safe to say that Octave One, in essence literally keeps it in the family. But that's as safely as you can put it really. Because, with regards to their musical career and output, there's nothing really 'safe' about it at all.
Arriving onto the electronic scene with I Believe, on the monumental (10 Records) compilation Techno 2: The Next Generation (alongside Carl Craig, Marc Kinchen, and Jay Denham) in 1990, and with subsequent long players like The X Files, Cymbolic, Images From Above, The Living Key and the most recent Summers On Jupiter on their own 430 West imprint, coupled with a stunning body of work that includes releases on Transmat, Underground Resistance, Tresor, Tinted and Concept Music over the last 2 decades, Octave One have etched themselves lovingly in the hearts and minds (and feet) of many techno devotees the world over, not just as Octave One, but their other known alias, Random Noise Generation as well.
The release of their latest LP, Revisited (Here, There and Beyond) on 430 West, looks back at their body of work over the last two decades with a present day twist. Mark my words, this is much more than just a 'greatest hits' compilation. Rather than just re-releasing a batch of seminal Burden Brothers classics, they've turned the tracks over to a variety of multi-talented remixers presenting you with a package that revisits their past, but doesn't dwell too heavily on nostalgia in any sense.
This new spin kicks off with their very own Revisited Remix V2 take on Dema - the original being a primal groove that represents the brothers definitive style (and genre) as a whole. The remix of this doesn't change the entire arrangement too much, but reworks it into a more driving, relentless update of the original. They follow up with their own reworking of Meridian giving it a warmer, organic and almost 'housier' edge as compared to the experimental tinges of the pioneering original.
Sandwell District turns their virgin outing I Believe into a darker post-modern techno onslaught that embraces the raw and dirty origins of the genre and yet keeps it fresh and cutting-edge throughout it's entire six and a half minutes. Swedish techno maestro Aril Brikha pulls out all the stops on his remix of Daystar which sounds nothing like the original at all, and I mean that in a good way.
Another Swede and another great outing on the track Love and Hate comes courtesy of Cari Lekebusch's remix which, like Aril's mix, is a warm and sophisticated slice of sweet tech-house that, although, also different from the original, does what a great remix should, in all respects.
OCTAVE ONE - LOVE & HATE - CARI LEKEBUSCH'S HIDDEN REMIX by Cari Lekebusch
Alexander Kowalski doesn't really add too much to his deeper take on I Need Release but the results are pleasant and and extremely playable, as is Vince Watson's respectful outing on Nicolette, actually sounding very much like Octave One in his manipulation of the groove and its inherent dynamics. Ken Ishii's version of the same track is a breathtaking mash of old school meets new school with the way in which he manipulates the groove around in the right places. Almost like shuffling between a three-deck DJ set, as he normally does so well.
Luke Slater's interpretation of The Greater Good, one of the more recent Octave One outings, is a riding bass-line driven techno onslaught guaranteed to get those fists in the air and those sweaty bodies gyrating and grinding at peak-time.
Which kind of brings me to my only disappointment on the entire album; if I can actually call it that really. That the previously released remix of their biggest tune, Blackwater doesn't quite get a 'version 2012.2'. I had always felt that the Alter Ego remix (which was released back in 2002) was well ahead of it's time, even back then. And that being the case, or for lack of anything more substantial, is the reason that it is the only version featured of that classic here. That having been said though, I'm sure the Burden boys have a very good reason and I won't fault that for a minute. It's still an awesome version.
The album winds up in the most fitting soulful, melodic, emotional and quintessentially Detroit-esque possible way with Gerald Mitchell's (aka Los Hermanos) delightful remix of Someday, making this, overall a remix testimony that should, not only make the Burden family proud, but open 2012 to a whole new world of interesting possibilities for the band of brothers we so lovingly know as Octave One.
01. Dema (Revisited Remix V2)
02. Meridian (Revisited Remix Rebalanced)
03. I Believe (Sandwell District Remix)
Amazon (256kbps Mp3) | iTunes (256kbps AAC)
04. Daystar Rising (Aril Brikha Remix)
Amazon (256kbps Mp3) | iTunes (256kbps AAC)
05. Love and Hate (Cari Lekebusch's Revealed Remix)
06. I Need Release (Alexander Kowalski Remix)
07. Nicolette (Vince Watson Remix)
08. The Greater Good (Luke Slater Remix)
09. Nicolette (Ken Ishii Remix)
10. Blackwater (Alter Ego Vocal Mix)
Amazon (256kbps Mp3) | iTunes (256kbps AAC)
11. Somedays (Los Hermanos Remix)
How did you spend the Christmas Holidays last year?
We spent the holidays actually prepping for our New Years gigs and doing some recording. We had a chance to play with a few new toys, but for the most part we wanted to make sure the new year brought something different and special for our live sets.
Tell us a little about the thought process behind the remix album and when it all started.
A couple years ago we started compiling a list of names of various artist that we felt over the years we really liked and respected their work. And being around the business for so long, we couldn't believe just how long that list was :) So we began the trimming down of the list to make it more practical for us to work with according to their schedules and ours too. The whole thought process behind the project was to give every artist the absolute reign to choose any track from the library that moved them, without any interference from us. We wanted a window of us through them and their creativity!
Was it difficult narrowing down which ones made the final cut on the album?
Yes and no :) Because we only approached artists whose work we truly appreciated. We had decided in the interim that we would accept absolutely anything that they came up with as an expression of themselves in our work. To think about it, in the beginning it was a bit fearful for us. But we felt that, that was the only way to do it and also, that's the way we would want it to be done as artist 'unedited and uninterrupted'.
Has there ever been a 'Jekyll and Hyde' situation that arises every time you're in the studio?
Hmm...don't quite know if we quite understand this question but if you mean that we become someone else whilst creating. Sure, sometimes you can get so wrapped in your work and it almost completely takes you over and you become someone else entirely! We think it happens to every artist from time to time, whether a musician, painter or whatever. You create and sometimes that creation becomes you :)
Apart from the Alter Ego remix of 'Blackwater' on the album, an update on that hasn't quite featured. Any particular reason?
No particular reason. We love the Alter Ego remix, but it was previously released already and we thought it still had a current sound that didn't need to be reworked to be made current. Those guys were a bit ahead of there time when they did that remix anyway, now it's current!
Is there a new Octave One long player on the cards at some point?
Yea, for sure! We've been working on some new releases here and there which we from time to time play in our live set to see how they work out. But we've been taking our time as far as recording them in the studio, one because we've been touring like mad (more than in years past) and two because we want the feel of our next 'long player' project to come together organically and not forced. But when that mood hits us we're definitely gonna lock ourselves in the studio for a few days to purge whatever needs to come out musically through our system out...lol!
It's a tough time for many artists and musicians these days, give us your take the music industry in general and how you feel other budding new artists can rise above the current situation.
The music industry is in a bit of disarray at the moment as it still is trying to figure out how to navigate in a still emerging global digital environment. Gone are the days when a particular sound resided in a city or country for a while and grew out organically to the rest of the world. Now music is just thrust out globally without it having the opportunity to really capture a particular market or scene. So to say terms like 'shelf life' that we used to love to use pretty much no longer exist for a lot of artists, new and established. So now when things are released you can only hope that it 'sticks' at least briefly enough so they can make something out of it, which makes it tough for artists right now. But, it's times like these that separate individuals who just jumped into the scene from those individuals who truly have a love and have a deep passion for what they're doing and are driven to create. And we would tell those 'budding' new artists driven by their deep passion to create, to create, create and create some more! And through all of that creating you'll start honing in your craft and developing your 'own' style or sound. That's one of the most important things that you can do! Because, we're just coming off of an era where dance music was quite sparse and empty, and when all of the gimmicks and marketing tools have been used and run its course, it always comes back to the music. And audiences are ready and awaiting something of more of depth in music. Believe us, they're truly ready for songs again!
Given the current state of 'pop' music, who are the one's you'd single out who are doing something positive within it?
We don't really follow 'pop' music so we can't really speak on what's going on with it. There are certain songs that jump out to us that catch our attention but the artist themselves really haven't sparked our interest so much lately.
Describe a Burden brothers family cookout or barbecue.
Lots of family, lots of food, lots of laughter, lots of fun and lots and lots of love :)))