OCTAVE ONE with ADAM WINICK, SHAMUS COGHLAN and STEWART DOUGLAS at the Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen West), Saturday (July 29). $15 adv. 416-531-5042.
Detroit techno veterans Octave One (and their hard techno alter ego Random Noise Generation) are one of the few family groups in underground dance music. The group is primarily made up of brothers Lawrence and Lenny Burden but also sometimes includes Lance, Lorne and Lynell Burden in the studio. (We assume their parents wanted to save money on monograms.)
Unlike the battling brothers of Oasis, the Burdens seem to have a better grasp of how to work through their sibling rivalries.
"A relationship between brothers is kind of like a husband-wife relationship," Lawrence explains from the office of their label, 430 West. "Sometimes you get a little hot under the collar, but you work it out and go in there and try to prove your case to the other guy. We've done it for so long, we know when someone is emotionally involved with a part."
They've been cranking out melodic techno records since their 1990 debut, I Believe, which by an awesome stroke of luck was put out on a compilation of Detroit techno by Virgin, instantly catapulting Octave One to international visibility.
"Around that time, Juan Atkins had gone out of town for a while, and his brother was renting out his studio while he was away," Lawrence recalls. "We paid him for some studio time. Anthony Shakir was engineering, and he really liked the track and sent it over to Derrick May to see if he'd put it out on Transmat. Originally, Derrick wasn't that into it, but Neil Rushton (who was overseeing the compilation) really liked it."
Currently Octave One are gearing up for the release of a DVD of live performances that will feature some new material along with live reworkings of their hits. Unlike most people doing live electronic performances these days, the Burdens rely on good old-fashioned hardware, so there's a clear connection between seeing one of them turn a knob and the sound it produces.
"Sometimes when we're playing live we'll be going in totally different directions, and we have to react to each other to make it work. Lenny can be doing something and suddenly switch it up, so we have to be able to read each other.
"There were always rumours that there was just a mini-disc back there or something," Lawrence continues. "People couldn't believe you could just get up there and jam with the gear in the same way a band does, but there's a lot of improvising in what we do."