Trans-Asia Express marks the 808-enthusiast’s first release in over five years.
Over the past decade, few can claim to have devoted themselves to the sci-fi sound of electro quite like Johan Sebastian Bot. Between running the ever-informative meme-sharing, music-posting pages of Dark Science Electro, spinning tunes on Intergalactic FM, or producing machine music on labels such as Transient Force and Solar One Music, the man better known as DVS NME has left an indelible imprint on the scene the world-over.
Trans-Asia Express is the 808-enthusiast’s first release in over five years – testament to how much time he’s invested into championing other DJs, labels and producers. Conceptually speaking, it bears a unique disposition, applying scales typically found amongst the traditional sonics of China and Japan to the broken beats of electro. Alongside the Eastern influence, another obvious reference can be found in the title, re-contextualising Kraftwerk’s seminal Trans-Europa Express.
Just as any cross-continental voyage traverses over a range of landscapes, Bot’s album explores a variety of soundscapes, moods and intensities. Diving deep into ‘Neptune’s lair’, ‘Hydroelectric Tsunami’ and ‘Undersea Kingdom’ reference the aquatic characteristics of the deep blue. The wave-inducing kicks of the opening track bear a briny complexion, whilst the amphibious synthwork and agile percussion of ‘Undersea Kingdom’ glide swiftly below the surface. Above the clouds, ‘Mission To The Sun’ floats mellifluously through outer-space with its cosmic scales and breathless, drifting synth textures.
Alongside his extra-terrestrial and subterraneous explorations, Bot exhibits some of the crude and raw details found only on the ground. Hyo-ugen’s rumbling, emotive bassline and intricate drumwork brings the Express back down to Earth, powerfully situating the listener amongst tumultuous terrain. Similarly, Shinigao’s fervent energy, driving percussion and high-voltage keys induce floor-pounding movement.
Bot’s Asian influence is most apparent in the slower pounding sonics of ‘Kikumoto’ and ‘Precog’. Undulating toms bumping, crispy snares snapping, the trundling strung-out percussion of ‘Kikumoto’ pairs hypnotically alongside the melody’s mechanical gloss. Precog’s stripped back drum beats and wonky scalar melody are accentuated by the breezy background textures and trademark DVS NME sci-fi synths, a sound further displayed on ‘Tsundoku’.
‘Mono No Aware’ brings some funk to the album with its oozing low-end stabs and crunchy strikes of the snare. More bounce and bass can be found amongst Symbiosis’ true electro rhythm, complete with chiming cowbells and a syrupy resonant melody.
Both ‘The Machine Within’ and ‘Schedule III’ possess mechanical textures found only amongst the automated technologies on Planet Earth. Erratic pulses and bleeps channel the classic future-facing aesthetic of the sci-fi sound on ‘The Machine Within’. Pulsating synthwork adds energy to both tracks, surfing synthetically above boisterous percussive beats. Schedule III’s squelches accentuate the scientific sheen further, dancing above the oscillating robo rhythms propelling the track forward.
Trans-Asia Express was released on 30th August 2019.
Grab your copy here.
Words: Jens Berring
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