Published on October 31st, 2019

Leave it to the Japanese to distill the power of minimalism down to a single syllable: “Ma.” Similar but not identical to the old saw that “less is more,” ma reveres the space between objects as opposed to the objects themselves. Perhaps this is where Transkam, a minimalistic, instrumental three-piece from Tokyo, derive their sense of self, proving that through simplicity, earth-shattering, industrial, melodic, psychedelic rock ’n’ roll can thrive. 

Six years along, Transkam remain true to their unembellished beginnings, yet “the sound layer is more multiplexed than ever, more psychedelic, because we like it,” drummer Yana tells PureHoney in a translated interview.

Though vocals are absent from Transkam’s work, emotion is not, and there’s ample room for listener interpretation. Yana explains instrumental music as “minimal and easy to understand,” and he adds by way of elaboration, “Barely is the best.” Indeed it is: In Transkam’s music you can feel the tumultuous chaos, the grimacing anger, the overwhelming joy, the loving comfort, all in a single awe-inspiring build or riff.

Their most recent release, 2018’s “EP2,” is an immersive three-track head trip. Like its predecessor, the debut 2016 LP “Blueshade of the Omegasound,” it pays attention not just to beats and notes, but to the intervals and the acoustic space between instruments. Transkam’s next album is set to drop during their fall U.S. tour, and when asked if the band had anything further in the works, Yana offered a simple affirmative but no details. Just like “ma,” the thing unsaid has a power of its own.

Westerners don’t necessarily know it but Tokyo’s contemporary music scene is popping. Transkam draws personnel from three different bands: Yana from hardcore Numbs, bassist Yukiyo from psych-rock Tacobonds, and guitarist Tune from synth-punk Alan Smithee’s MAD Universe. But Transkam may be the best-known of the city’s rock exports.

Asked about Transkam’s long-term goals, Yana says, “Making songs that are more convincing to us.” As for what they want those songs to communicate, Yana’s summary is both simple and expansive: “[An] unreal trip, love and peace.”

Transkam perform 8pm Friday November 1 at Voltaire in West Palm Beach with Grima, Violet Silhouette and Soul Particles. ~ Freddie Zandt

Clip to Evernote