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  • Filed under: Review
  • 12/18/2013

NHK'Koyxen Dance Classics Vol. III

Osaka-born artist Kouhei Matsunaga has been releasing experimental electronic music for nearly two decades under various aliases, many of them using some variant of the initials for Japan's public broadcasting organization, NHK. As NHK'Koyxen, he seeks to deconstruct techno with his own perverse logic. Following a similar mission statement as its previous volumes, Dance Classics Vol. III rarely sits still, instead shifting through as many permutations of techno as Matsunaga sees fit.

Opener "629" employs synth stabs, analog gurgles, and other odd fragments in a seemingly random assortment that eventually converges into a coherent rhythm. This segues into "501," a slightly awry, trip-hop-evoking cut whose glinting synth loops play atop a sturdy 4/4 cadence but never really settle into the groove. Similarly structured is LP standout "768," which harnesses panned, insect-like buzzes and a flat, analog drum pattern that swells into an acid-techno refrain, spontaneously gliding up and down the notes like a finger tracing a piano. As Dance Classics Vol. III continues, it becomes increasingly apparent that the album's cuts are all volatile, challenging shapes. Improvisationally performed, the songs skirt accessibility only to subvert it, like someone repeatedly setting a table and then pulling the tablecloth away, along with the place settings. And though the styles on the record do vary—there are forays into redlining hardcore techno, stark drum frenzies, sleek minimalism, and more—NHK'Koyxen's methodology stays consistent throughout.

Despite this consistency, Dance Classics Vol. III still sees Matsunaga using a slew of evasive maneuvers to avoid predictability, including polyrhythms, the aforementioned glide effect, bouts of glitchiness, and several other techniques. "766," for example, seems to veer through countless configurations, but it does so in an intuitive, human fashion. Rather than focusing on simple, streamlined emotions, Matsunaga's music captures the enormously complex human experience, something far too eccentric to be conceived by a computer's processing power. As such, it takes a particular kind of listener to join Matsunaga on his impulsive journey, but those who follow along are sure to find wisdom and reward.

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