NHK’koyxen – Dance Classics Vol 2 [Pan]

Properly not what we expected as the follow up to Dance Classics Vol. I, but still an LP that only took a day or so to grow on us. Kouhei Matsunaga is back on Pan under the NHK’koyxen alias to further explore the club side of of his electronic personalities, bringing us Dance Classics Vol. II less than a year after the flamingo covered Vol. 1 appeared.

Japanese born and oft-based Kouhei Matsunaga is a proper electronic sound-don, first being heavily noticed in the early ’00’s with early split works and collaborations with the ever-prolific Merzbow. These works were the follow-up to his debut solo CD, Upside Down, and he couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate validation than that of Merzbow. Kouhei’s output has been relentlessly quality, delving deeper and deeper into experimental sounds and electronica, going between dark techno and verging on noise structures. In 2008 Matsunaga teamed up with Toshio Munehiro to form the group NHK, which subsequently birthed his new solo alias NHK’koyxen. Both these projects were designed to explore more dance-orientated material – which seems to be a current trend for leftfield electronica leaders – and pretty much everything that’s come out of the NHK camp has been absolute fire.

On first listen didn’t quite get what had happened. Dance Classics Vol. 1 was a plate we’d rinsed, massively hectic but flipped up within structure to make some beautiful tracks. Vol. 2 seemed to be missing the same spark, even taking a backwards step to beats and lo-fi trip-hop in some areas. After the differences had sunk in, we were all over it though. It’s like the skitzophrenia has dissapeared and everything occurs at a much more natural pace. This is what Flying Lotus should sound like, and partially what Mark Fell may have been going for with his house projects. You wouldn’t be hard drawn to take comparisons from others such as Andrew Pekler in the way that it bounces or Keith Fullerton Whitman in the organic randomness it creates.

Kohei has hit that balance of completely different sounding tracks done outside of the traditional dance floor constraints (which, it’s been said are the most important part of house and techno creativity) with elements that still bang as 4×4 or beats based hip-hop; the whole thing attacked at from a completely different angle to any of his contemporaries. The tempo may change drastically but not unnecessarily, and with cuts coming in around the three-, five- and even seven-minute mark it starts to sound more and more like a complete album.

It’s still a proper evolution of twisted electronics, stripped down, beaten up and rebuilt in some form of unique structure, we’ve not heard since Waveform Transmissions was rediscovered. I swear there’s even a NES Bowser’s Castle 8-bit sample thrown in. Big ups Pan Recordings as always, consistently dope label. Do yourself a favor, pick this up, dropping this week, and if you’ve not checked out the first one get on that too.

Press release below and underneath that the video he’s done for track titled ‘705’ off of the new album.

via Pan
Kouhei Matsunaga’s ‘Dance Classics Vol.II’ is the continuation of his ongoing development of his more dance oriented material, as seen from his sets with Sensational and also his other minimal techno project NHK. Not feeling tied down to one genre, Matsunaga nestles in the PAN roster, and however that isn’t to say that he is dance per se as witnessed from his recent collaborations with Conrad Schnitzler. The album focuses more on bass/base electronics, music for the dancefloor and/or altered state reflection. Having composed pieces for WDR based on Henry Chopin, Kouhei is equally at ease jamming with Sensational, whilst simultaneously executing a obsessively numerical sequence of dance pieces that borders on Hanne Darboven-like compulsivity.

Born in Osaka, Kouhei Matsunaga is a musician and an illustrator. He started drawing during childhood under the influence of his grandfather. He grew up listening to hardcore- techno and hip hop, studied architecture and has been mainly making music since 1992. Under many different aliases (NHK, NHKyx, Internet Magic, Koyxen) he has released numerous albums on labels such as Skam Records, Wordsound, Raster Noton and his first ever album “Upside Down” on Mille Plateaux in 1998. He has also collaborated with artists like Merzbow, Jungle Brothers’ Sensational, Autechre’s Sean Booth, Mika Vainio, Conrad Schnitzler, Anti Pop Consorium’s High Priest, Rudolf, Puppetmastaz crew, Asmus Tietchens, Ralf ‘RLW’ Wehowsky and so on. His own label Flying Swimming was founded in 2002 with the main purpose being to publish and curate events of experimental contemporary music and art.

The LP is mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M, pressed on 140g vinyl. It is packaged in a pro-press color jacket which itself is housed in a silk screened pvc sleeve with artwork by Kathryn Politis & Bill Kouligas.