Octave One by Marie Staggat-23

If anyone can make cookie-cutter techno, then improvisation is the route back to heart and soul. And there are few people as good at making dense, bass-heavy improvised dance music as Detroit’s Octave One.

I mean, yes, it’s a little weird that any of us would get overly eloquent or snobby writing about dance music. I would hope your test is the same as my test – does piping a track make you start doing an embarrassing little jig at your desk? (Boy, am I glad my office is on street level and equipped with giant, aquarium-style windows.)

Octave One stopped by Resident Advisor recently, with a table bestrewn with gear – that thickened-up gravy of sound. Yes, that’s our own MeeBlip (SE edition, modded with an extra-big knob) on the bass stabs at the beginning. And there’s tons of KORG and other gear in there, as well. There’s a nice balance of advance preparation with rich live-played synth lines and mixing and filtering. It means they’ve done enough that they can lay down a groove, but they also can feel transitions, structure – actually say something in the moment. They’re also clever in keeping everything accessible, rather than doing something overly cerebral. Sonically, everything is defined (clever groove can help), but there’s also a healthy amount of dirt and warmth.

There’s funk and soul in this music, too, ingredients that perhaps more producers would do well to genuinely understand.

Co-founders Lenny and Lawrence Burden have been at this for about a decade and a half, and it shows. But what impresses me is that they aren’t just riding off the success of some tracks: they’re proving their chops in every single show, whether you’ve heard of them or not. (And yes, you might recognize tracks like Black Water (with vocals by Ann Saunderson) – but it really doesn’t matter.)

For still more improvisation, don’t miss their Boiler Room Moscow live set from last year:

There, they debuted the rich, delicious track “Afterglow”:

It’s fun to watch on the Internet, but I know I hope I get lucky and see them in person. Tour dates through Europe before they wrap up in New York:

31.07.2015 – Moon Beach Festival, Trogir, Croatia
07.08.2015 – Dreambeach Festival, Almeria, Spain
30.08.2015 – Krankbrother day and Night, London
06.09.2015 – Vagabundos, Space, Ibiza
18.09.2015 – Bacchanale Festival, Vieux Port, Montreal
19.09.2015 – Stage One festival, TBA, New York

Give them a visit:
http://www.octaveone.com/

Photo, top: Marie Staggat.

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  • wetterberg

    It’s not my particular style of music, but man do I love a good electronics set. I live for setups that aren’t running on rails – I want that tightrope experience; “will it work? Will it fail?” – that liveliness is sorely missing from so many setups these days.

  • wetterberg

    It’s not my particular style of music, but man do I love a good electronics set. I live for setups that aren’t running on rails – I want that tightrope experience; “will it work? Will it fail?” – that liveliness is sorely missing from so many setups these days.

  • Feel Study

    hell yeah, this is stupid fresh. Mo Town still holding it down and nourishing the world with much needed soul. their set up is crazy, it’s dedication to travel with a rig like that. thanks for sharing Peter.

    • Their tech rider must either be ridiculously simple (give us 25 power outlets and a desk 1×3 meters) or insanely long… 😉

  • Feel Study

    hell yeah, this is stupid fresh. Mo Town still holding it down and nourishing the world with much needed soul. their set up is crazy, it’s dedication to travel with a rig like that. thanks for sharing Peter.

    • Their tech rider must either be ridiculously simple (give us 25 power outlets and a desk 1×3 meters) or insanely long… 😉

  • aaron

    that second half reminded me of some nitzer ebb grooves, tastey basslines.

    • In fact, I thought of a house mix version of all those Depeche Mode 12″es I’ve got in my vinyl collection from ’81 to ’86-ish or so. Lovely analog synth sounds and bouncy beats.

  • aaron

    that second half reminded me of some nitzer ebb grooves, tastey basslines.

    • In fact, I thought of a house mix version of all those Depeche Mode 12″es I’ve got in my vinyl collection from ’81 to ’86-ish or so. Lovely analog synth sounds and bouncy beats.