Point Blank continue to link up with artists and industry professionals to show how the very best operate. Having recently sat down with the likes of Fred P and MJ Cole, their latest masterclass is with Octave One, who demonstrate the kind of slick intuition with a live set up that a quarter of a century in the game will bring. Take a look a below at their incredible live performance at PB’s London studios and listen out as they talk through their set-up, “The Mothership”.
Brothers Lenny and Lawrence Burden are the permanent members of Octave One, and over nearly 30 years they’ve been making their gorgeously soulful brand of techno. This video gives the perfect vantage point to see what the brothers get up to behind the controls of their incredible array of hardware. They also share what their live set is all about: explaining why they eschew computers, what the art of performing is to them and how to make the most out of the interaction between person and machine. The pair get technical about their gear and we learn why they call their Akai MPC 1000 “The Brain”, as well as how their set up is designed to allow as much lossless experimentation on the fly as possible. Finally, the veteran duo share their thoughts on the possibilities available today compared with when they started out, and why the most important thing to learn is how to fail.
Octave One have been a part of the techno landscape since 1990 when they first started releasing on Derrick May’s Transmat label in Detroit, and soon after on their own 430 West imprint. Initially, they were focused almost completely on recording, with Lawrence in sole control of DJing; but when a tour demanded they play live, Lenny devised a show in just two weeks. When on-stage he found he was struggling to get around the gear, and Lawrence stepped in to help with the mixing and effects so Lenny could focus on sound-creation: an arrangement that still exists to this day. In the years since, Octave One have become synonymous with live, analogue techno. Their set has evolved with technology but they still play with hardware only and every set is defined by feel and the injection of the human element to sequenced music – an approach that has seen them play every big stage in techno, and forge longstanding links with institutions like Tresor and Berghain. In 2008, after the release of ‘Summers On Jupiter’, they stopped releasing, stating they had nothing left to say through music. A smattering of old tracks and one-offs would follow, before their touring schedule inspired their real return with ‘Burn It Down’ in 2015. Between that record’s riotous reception and their seminal Boiler Room performance from Moscow, the band’s legendary live set has never been so in-demand.
Interested in learning how to build sets like these? On Point Blank’s BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree you can learn everything you need to know about music production including mixing & mastering, composition and music business, and in the Electronic Music Performance module they teach how to tailor a set up and create astonishing live sets. The module is developed by Saytek, a hardware aficionado and celebrated live artist in his own right. There is a remote alternative too with the online BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree. Take a look at the full range of courses here. For more information, contact a course advisor on +44 20 7729 4884, or, if you are a resident of the USA, call 323 282 7660. Full contact info at the Point Blank contact page.