There are lots of unsung heroes in dance music, and if you’re familiar with Octave One, you’ll probably agree that the glove fits. That’s not to say nobody knows who the prolific veteran Detroit techno act is—or that nobody knows any of their tracks—but that other artists from the Motor City shone when the genre was in its infancy and went on to become bigger international names.
Octave One is a family affair comprising brothers Lawrence and Lenny Burden, but the sibling (and “L”) connection in the group has been known to expand as far as Lynell, Lorne and Lance. (The latter three brothers won’t be arriving in Tokyo; we’re guessing they leave the international traveling to the other two.) Octave One—occasionally known as Random Noise Generation—debuted back in 1990 with the track “I Believe,” featured on the definitive Techno 2: The Next Generation alongside other artists including Carl Craig.
The brothers initially released material on Derrick May’s Transmat label before forming their own imprint, 430 West Records. However, 430 West ended up as a vehicle for more notorious artists than Octave One—think DJ Rolando of Underground Resistance and acid-cum-electro gods AUX 88.
That said, if there’s one track Octave One is known for, it’s “Black Water.” With its lush strings, madly infectious hook and vocals (from techno founder Kevin Saunderson’s wife, Ann), the track, in all its different remixes, has been spun by everyone from Jeff Mills to Louie Vega and featured on over 70 compilation albums. “Black Water” is a musical oxymoron: a million-selling underground classic—the kind of track that could only have come from Detroit, home of hi-tech soul. Octave One rocked the Audio Tokyo Electronic Music Festival in Harumi last July, and if you’re at their upcoming Shibuya event be sure to peek at the Burden Brothers in action behind their live setup, bopping their heads to an almost ridiculous degree.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy then try Warehouse702 on the same night. The club, which just updated its website (to inadvertently make it look five years older), is hosting Scottish producer Edit-Select, real name Tony Scott—no, not Ridley’s brother.
Scott is the latest in a long line of talented Scottish acts—such as Slam and Funk D’Void—to become firmly established in the techno frat. His brand of almost evil techno (check out stripped-to-the-bare-bones tracks “Bauer” and “Bantu”) dovetailed so well with esteemed sinister techno label par excellence Ostgut-Ton, that they signed him. Regulars on the Tokyo scene DJ Sodeyama and Alex Einz provide the rest of the entertainment in what should be a hedonistic party… Hey, if Edit-Select’s tracks are good enough for one Mr Hawtin to spin, then they’re good enough for us!