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NHK yx Koyxen feat. XiX: Hallucinogenic Doom Steppy Verbs (Diagonal)

Kouhei Matsunaga returns under yet another variation on his schizophrenic mutant techno project, having taken a bit of a break after his last installment of the fascinating Dance Classics series on PAN in 2013. It’s a timely complement to his first full-length as NHK (where he collaborates with Toshio Monehiro), Program, out now on Line. Some of the tracks on here are probably the most accessible and “normal” grooves I’ve heard come from Matsunaga so far, even as they veer sharply left of field in compelling ways. The main attraction is “845,” a nearly twelve-minute midtempo acid breakbeat groove that patiently rolls along with an electricity that’s infectious.

And it’s somehow a bit of a relief to hear such a steady and patient slice of dance music from a man who’s often far too restless to honor predictability or regularity; one only need to hear the short opening cut “218,” a slippery stream of backwards beats and noise that is likely to work well as a palate cleanser before the proceedings. Likewise, “234” is a mangled, distorted tangle of beatmaking, another short cut between the more acid-infused longer cuts.

Two of the tracks feature a guest vocalist named XiX, who provides another layer of sound and timbre over Matsunaga’s often frenetic and squirmy acid patterns. The steady kick that anchors “932” is a handsome counterpoint to an otherwise nervous and twitchy arrangement. What’s most fun about Matsunaga’s music is that even when he dares to tread more obvious waters, it’s still considerably far from conventional. That he’s pulled together at least a few cuts here that are DJ-friendly for an adventurous set is even better, adding diversity to a rich and unusual repertoire of post-post-post-techno curiosity. Definitely one of the more interesting electronic releases I’ve heard so far in 2015.

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