When it comes to finding the biggest and best in new electro music, Dark Science Electro springs to mind as the go-to source. With a mix series that has hosted the likes of AS1, E.R.P., Umwelt and Morphology, the blog is one of the most respected in the game, and has a feature show on Intergalactic FM, the Dutch radio station run by iconic producer I-F. The dedicated individual responsible for the influential re-posts and mixes is Johan Sebastian Bot, a.k.a DVS NME, a veteran producer hailing from the Rocky Mountains of Denver, Colorado. Having released on labels such as Transient Force, Solar One and Pulse Drift, it’s fair to say that his talents extend beyond documenting new music.
Inspired by Depeche Mode, a young Bot would try to re-produce their classic hits on the cult Playstation game ‘Music Generator.’ Other influences include the obvious electro deities of Drexciya, as well as the less immediate works of Skinny Puppy. However, these industrial frequencies have certainly translated into his production, and via the regular Post Punk themed mixes uploaded onto the Dark Science Soundcloud. Since those early days, DVS NME has gone on to master a whole range of hardware, as demonstrated by his Instagram posts and Soundcloud uploads. Most recently, Bot composed a tribute song to the late great James Stinson entitled ‘Ghosts of Detroit‘, fusing the sounds of the TR-8S with 4 boutique Roland synths. Supernatural robo-chords partner up with a spirited acid line to complement bounding kick drums and reverberating claps.
The electro devotee takes us through the technology he uses to produce his wonderful machine-music. Check out what he had to say below.
This is my newest piece of gear and is by far my absolute favorite drum machine I have ever owned. It is possible that my love for the device is partially because it is so new but I don’t necessarily think that is the case as I have been waiting on a machine like this for years. I have long been a big fan of the groovebox format of machines I have used in the past like the Roland MC-909 or the Yamaha RM1x and this new machine (TR-8S) delivers a similar tactile experience with a ton of new bells and whistles. Ease of use and overall design is what really earns this such high praise in my book. It really does feel like it was designed to play live and that was exactly what I have been needing. On-board effects per channel, sampling via SD card, master channel effects, ACB recreations of 808, 909, 606 and more make this machine a go-to for starting tracks and vetting out rhythms in real time.
This is my absolute favorite of the 5 Roland Boutique models that I currently own. This classic monophonic beast features a simplistic 1-VCO, 1-VCF, 1-VCA, 1-LFO design, and does not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination. The original monophonic design has been thwarted by Roland removing the limitation, providing full 4-note polyphony. Chords and chords and chords for days! This synth is extremely easy to get lost in and is always the boutique that I turn on and slide in front of a newcomer/visitor to my studio. This machine makes it easy to sound great even if you have no experience and people immediately are struck by its bubbly, distinctive bass sounds. The 100-step sequencer, selectable advanced LFO, and onboard arpeggiator are easily enough to make this a go-to in my process.
Gadget (iPad DAW)
I have a long history with using iOS devices in my productions starting back in 2010 with the release of the NanoStudio application. There is something about the workflow within a touchscreen environment that fits my production style quite well. My acquisition of Korg Gadget in late 2016 lead to a surge in productivity and newfound interest in creating. The app features 30 built in synths modeled after some of the greatest synths made, including expandability via purchases of other synths in the App Store. My personal favorites are the Berlin (MS-20), Arp Odyssey, Mono/Poly, Chicago (TB-303), Phoenix (OB-8) and the Helsinki. Naturally there are a few that are aimed at the mainstream EDM crowd, however, those synths are just as easy to ignore as the genre itself. This program is simple to use with myriad built in effects, key signature isolators, arpeggiators and more. This app also offers MIDI support to send data to external machines which can be a massive windfall for producers that are using hardware that may not hit the mark with missing features like onboard arpeggiators, sequence length options or scale types. This app is my number one suggestion to someone just getting started in making music that doesn’t want to sink too much money into their new hobby. For $20 this app is everything you would expect and more.
Propellerhead’s Reason software has been a mainstay in my production for 17 years and I have no intention of changing anytime soon. It was the software that I learned everything that I know about music production and sound design. The built-in synths and effects are second to none, not to mention that the samples included are an excellent starting point for any producer to build complete songs. With the addition of VST support and the ability to import samples, this program simply cannot be beat in my view. Beyond using the program as an all-in-one DAW, I also utilize Reason as my recording rig for my hardware with the recent update to 10. I will always be a huge supporter of hybrid studios in that I will never discount any production method (hardware, iOS app, VST, etc) in my workflow. I have found the newest version of Reason to be particularly flexible in meeting/exceeding my expectations for all means of conveyance necessary.
A synth fanatic friend of mine urged me to get this when he found out I was starting to collect boutiques, and boy am I happy I took his advice. Two digitally controlled oscillators were the big selling point on this machine for me, unlike the JU-06 which only features one. The other thing I like about programming this module is the device features dials and knobs rather than the sliders found on my other machines. My favorite sounds in this device are the string sounds for their rich, big warm sound as well as some of the weirder sounds that quickly venture into some Drexciyan horror-Electro territory. Pulse Width Modulation is another feature that I love that is available in all waveforms, which can be uncommon in many other synths. All of the factory patches are great starting points, and the module’s options for manipulation of the sound make it a favorite for my time in the studio.
Have a listen to the Dark Science Electro Soundcloud here and tell me you don’t find something new!