Octave One – Revisited Series 2 review

Sandwell District and Aril Brikha are among the most respected producers in their respective fields of techno, but it’s not hard to believe that they felt some sense of trepidation when they were asked to remix Octave One, or that they approached the task at hand with caution. The adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, probably flickered through their minds on occasion and if it did, it was with good reason. Octave One aka brothers Lenny and Lawrence Burden – their other male siblings, Lance, Lorne and Lynell, also make occasional appearances –  were among the first Detroit techno acts to make their name outside their hometown, and it is the act’s breakout track, “I Believe”, from 1990, which Sandwell District are tasked with reworking.

The original is a gloriously atmospheric house track imbued with an innocence that prevailed during that short period that marked the transition from otherworldly techno to the dark excesses of hardcore. Sandwell’s version is respectful; anchored in tight, shuffling beats, they add layer upon layer of atmospheric soundscapes making the vocal sound muffled, almost ghostly, but without detracting from the original’s sense of wonder. “Daystar Rising” is taken from perhaps the pinnacle of Octave One’s career and was originally released as a split EP with Rolando and Mad Mike. Once again, the treatment is respectful and understated. Departing from his trademark deep techno sound, Brikha simply adds a tougher, acidic bass to the brothers’ rolling rhythms and makes the chords sound slightly more eerie. It’s a skilful edit with enough subtle changes to make a difference.

Richard Brophy