Octave One, Revisited Series 2

[430 West]

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The annals of electronic music are heavily populated with remixes that not only enhanced original tracks, but gained them infinitely more acclaim and exposed them to much bigger audiences. Let’s face it – does anyone really know the original version of “Dooms Night” by Azzido Da Bass or did Robert Armani’s “Circus Bells” stand out before Hardfloor turned it into a razor-sharp snare rolling, acid-peaking techno classic? Thought not. Unfortunately, for every defining remix, there are thousands of ill-advised treatments that were quickly consigned to the scrapheap — think any attempt to remix “Strings of Life” — or even the recent edits of Trax releases. The reason why these remixes fail is because their authors set out to achieve the near impossible, namely to improve on the closest electronic music comes to perfection. A similar if not quite as daunting dilemma faces Sandwell District and Aril Brikha on Revisited Series 2.

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Octave One, aka Detroit’s Burden brothers, have been releasing hypnotic techno for over 20 years, laying down the blueprint for every would-be tribal producer to emulate. Adding to the scale of Sandwell District’s task is the fact that they are reworking “I Believe,” the Burdens’ first release, a piece of music that along with UR’s “Yolanda” defines a brief, wide-eyed moment in time when deep techno and vocal house sat together comfortably. Lisa Newberry’s breathless vocals capture this sense of innocence — an element Regis and Function’s version thankfully preserves. There’s not much else left from the original, with a shuffling rhythm track replacing the stop-start crisp beats, and murky, industrial textures replacing wonder with a sense of foreboding. It is through this dense atmospheric prism that Newberry’s vocals are audible: muffled though they may be, they still manage to remind the listener, now attuned to a gloomier narrative, of the positive movement that birthed techno. Brikha’s subject material is less onerous or problematic, as he is faced with a textbook Octave One track: “Daystar Rising” was originally released in 1998, when the brothers had reached the height of their creativity and popularity. In its original form, it’s one of their typically seductive techno rhythm tracks augmented by a distinctive bass stab. Brikha adds some grimy acid to the arrangement, along with chords characterized by a more mysterious edge than is his wont. Unusually for the Swedish producer, the end result is a leaner, meaner and moodier interpretation of dance floor techno. However, while both remixes are notable for altering the mood of the Burdens’ original compositions, it is unlikely that they will be feted as game-changing remixes.

kuri  on February 23, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I was interested to hear what these 2 remixes would bring to the original, but neither really stood out that much to my ears. “I Believe” was remixed a few times by Juan and Jay Denham and they both seemed to stay fairly true to the original’s moody but ultimately uplifting feel, making them worthy stand ins. The original though “stands the test of time.”

anton lang  on February 23, 2011 at 8:17 PM

yep. this makes me want to get down. not as bad-ass as the original though.

agencyx  on February 24, 2011 at 6:31 AM

The solo piano version of Strings by Francesco Tristano is great. But then it works within the confines of the piano so it’s a far from literal cover.

Blaktony  on February 24, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Sandwell District does a amazining job on “I Believe” but, nothing could replace the original (@ lease 4 me). It’s tied 2 the 1st time i heard it & where; if it brings any attention 2 the original classic that’s great.

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