‘Classic’ is a word that takes on certain negative connotations when associated with music. It’s possibly excusable when it comes to cinema or literature – that is, we seem quite happy to accept a classic film or classic novel as canon – but with music opinions are just a little bit stronger and there no shortage of iconoclasts to tear down attempts at creating an overview of ‘classic albums’. R&S Records tried to forge ahead with their series of Classics albums but whilst there is little to complain about the music on these volumes the titles mislead; in the cases of Aphex Twin and Derrick May, a more accurate title should be Compilation of 12” Singles Plus A Few Rarities.
Stepping into this lion’s den comes Kouhei Matsunaga, recording as NHK’Koyxeи with Dance Classics Vol. 1. Ostensibly a collection of his more dancefloor-friendly works, it’s not quite ‘dance’, and therefore not quite ‘dance classics’ either; although most of the tracks are pretty strong in their own right, it is hard to imagine the dubby “638” tearing the roof off a club. That’s overlooking the beatless interludes of “57” and “625”, and the reflective “521” – how many pauses for breath does a album that barely tips the 30 minute mark actually need?
This criticism of the album only stems from the title; those who pick an album by its title will most likely be disappointed (Scottish indie popsters Ballboy still suffer from having their album Club Anthems 2001 incorrectly filed by genre). They should give it a proper listen though; the sluggish rhythms and spaced-out atmosphere of many of the tracks work their magic in the slightly less heady atmosphere of the front room. In fact the people who will like this album the most are probably the very ones who would refuse to buy a record with the title Dance Classics Vol. 1 in the first place. So Matsunaga has presented his audience with a bit of a conundrum, and it would be a real shame if the flippant title was a barrier to discovering a fine slab of off-kilter electronic dub. (Jeremy Bye)