While the world knows Matsudaira Ken as a jidai geki actor turned novelty singer, the truth is far stranger. After being put off by a frustrating series of false trails and dead leads, I have finally unlocked the truth behind the famed “Matsuken.” This man, who can be found anywhere in Japan sporting his trademark chomage haircut and glittering golden kimono, is actually a time traveler. Sent from the far-off year of 3001, Matsuken’s mission was simple: learn how to love.
3001 is a cold time for humanity–while war has stopped, and every disease has been cured; human beings are now cold, emotionless shells. Recognizing this hole in their psyche, the scientists of 3001 have analyzed the masses and managed to find the one man on Earth still emotionally capable of love: Matsudaira Ken. Sent back to the year 1974–the year scientifically proven to have the highest quantity of love— Matsuken was to integrate into society and absorb as much love as he could, then bring it back to the year 3001. Incidentally, 1974 was the same year his acting career took off.
After decades of fame and success, his mission was accomplished: Matsuken finally learned the secret of love. In return for the kindness of the society that loved and embraced him, Matsuken decided to leave humanity a present: a 10 track CD featuring all of his music work, helpfully titled Matsuken Samba II. But this CD specifically is different from all of the other singles–or prototypes–he had released… it’s a time machine. Knowing the society of today couldn’t handle the technology used in his own time machine, Matsuken–being the skilled scientist that he is–used current day technology to make a CD that can take one back in time for short intervals. Furthermore, the CD’s time travel ability would only activate 5 years after release. Basically, right about now.
When I first listened to this CD, I thought me being surrounded by old ladies and watching Matsuken perform on a beat up analog TV during new year’s day was just a result of the immersive nature of this disc’s first track, Matsuken Samba II (Short Version). But no! Upon multiple listens, I come to notice that I am actually there… if only just for the track’s brief four minute and thirteen second runtime. Similarly, the following track, Matsuken Samba II (READYMADE SHOGUN MIX 2004), remixed by–if you haven’t already guessed–Pizzicato Five’s Konishi Yasuharu, takes me back even further. Despite the misleading 2004 in the title, I find myself in Shibuya’s Tower Records circa 1998, surrounded by people in clothes way more stylish than my own.
As I delve deeper into the disc, I find myself in the early ’90s with Matsuken De Go!’s corny synth and rock guitar. Following that is the deceptively titled Matsuken Mambo–deceptive since the song sounds like enka more than anything else. However, the track only takes you as far back as the ’80s with its low rent electronic keyboard backing. But the ultimate track on the CD–the most powerful track of them all is…
Matsuken Samba I!!
Completely free of anything in the way of cheap synth or crappy electronic keyboards, Matsuken Samba I has a wholly organic sound that takes you back to a shady, smoky izakaya in Japan circa 1960. I look next to me, and who else should happen to be there but The Genius That Descended From The Darkness… Akagi! But there’s little time to talk, as the next track on this marvel of technology is Matsuken Samba II (Full Version). I don’t know why, but for some reason the full version of Matsuken Samba II takes me back to my mundane room in Washington DC. It’s a wild ride no matter how many times I do it.
The last four tracks on the CD are karaoke tracks, and from what I can tell have no time travel capabilities. The CD also comes packaged with a DVD containing the famous Matsuken Samba II video, but it again doesn’t seem to have any kind effect on where I am in the sea of time. On that same vein, this rip of the CD, along with the various videos you can find on YouTube, should do nothing as they are merely distorted copies of the CD’s true nature. I’ve run the disc by many scientists, and they can’t seem to figure out what makes it work. Is it the hilariously out of touch music? The golden kimono? The 44 second difference between the short and full versions of Matsuken Samba II? Only Matsuken knows…
I found this CD in NYC’s BookOff for one dollar. The CD originally retailed for 2000 yen, but either price is pretty cheap for a state of the art time machine! Don’t delay, buy it today!