- The first thing you'll read about Kouhei Matsunaga—the fact that's been repeated in virtually every bit of press he's had and is now being repeated again here—is that he's spread his talents across a variety of fields. He's studied architecture, is an accomplished visual artist and has participated in audio collaborations with everyone from noise legend Merzbow to the eccentric MC Sensational. In spite of such a deep and varied portfolio, Matsunaga is typically concise in delineating his projects. Dance Classics Vol.I, his new record for PAN as NHK'Koyxen, is about as tight and straightforward as it gets, collecting eleven tracks of skittery, almost pop-friendly beats, with very little pointing at the more severe, academic end of his catalog.
Even so, it's hard to conceive dancing to the material here. For one thing, the pieces are quite short, with nothing over five minutes in duration. "625" and "521," which both sit at just under a minute, are beatless, bell-infused and sound like slightly askew children's lullabies. Most of the rest of the record has a sprite-like, densely packed energy, as many of the beats skip along in hyperactive double-time amid rave organ stabs. Moreover, one gets the distinct impression that Matsunaga is just banging these tracks out as they come to him, and the record expertly mixes this sketchy quality with well-wrought sound design. There's a lot going on, but it doesn't detract from the overall immediacy.
Because the constantly mutating beats verge on IDM, it seems logical that Matsunaga would augment them with glitchy, chopped-up sounds, but his decision to forgo this obvious route leads to some exciting results. On "614," he smothers a sluggish, shuffling rhythm with a jarringly filtered, piercing carnival atmosphere, while the imposing, glitzy chords on "638" wouldn't sound out of place on a Shed record. Matsunaga fits everything from rolling hip-hop ("530") to miniaturized, jacking, sub-laden electro ("55") into Dance Classics Vol.I. It doesn't exactly scream "dance party," but it's suffused with a sharply executed bounce nonetheless.