From essential work as Submerge distribution partners to downright revolutionary imagery and sound via Random Noise Generation, the brothers Burden (all five of them) have turned an address — like the 313 area code itself — into a deliverable cultural message.
On Detroit Calling, Lawrence Burden plays his family’s mailman. Though more like a genre profile than a spontaneous mind-altering night out seeing the eldest Burden spin, Calling consistently offers the goods, reflecting the last 10-plus years of Detroit techno without sounding retro or obtuse.
The mix starts hard and quick with “Eniac,” the first of nine Octave One tracks that form the musical structure of the robust 28-track record. From there on, LB provides an unyielding power mix, which tips its hat to all the major players of Detroit techno’s “second wave” — Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig — as well as 430 West’s own output, including his 18-year-old brother Lorne’s “Thrash.”
Certain featured tracks, such as Rolando’s “Jaguar,” Craig’s “Designer Music” and Hawtin’s “Orange,” might seem a bit obvious to those in the scene. But with brother Lawrence linking them together, the mix never loses its relentless pacing, thorough sonic quotations or powerful confirmation of purpose. The key track in this last piece of relevance is the recently produced Octave One bomb, Blackwater,” featuring the vocals of Kevin Saunderson’s wife, Ann. Two mixes are offered here, both turning the mostly sober assault of drum machines and techno heritage into a beautiful resonating story linking techno to house and back again. Among the light attack of beats and a melodic synth line, Saunderson’s vocals (“just open your heart, just open your eyes”) hint to a past recovered in the march toward the future. To the Burden brothers, it’s a powerful centerpiece to an album that, true to intention, represents the depth of their funk.
E-mail Carleton S. Gholz at [email protected].