...The three albums “Tentai”, “After” and “Tracks” are a sort of hop, skip and jump in the band's trajectory. “Tracks” can also be seen as their third great leap forward, after “Kukangendai 2” and “Palm”. The vocal part is completely gone, and each self-contained track is even more diverse, more abundantly imaginative. Some of them could even be described as "pop" or "danceable". They have clearly entered a new phase.
“Tracks” brings to the fore the undercurrent of Latin flavor (?) in their post-“After” work, and demonstrates the most varied rhythmic patterns ever. The change is undoubtedly led by the drums, but the band's mode change, from making "differences" to making "waves", also comes from the bass and guitar. I'm honestly surprised at their evolution, by how they've come to handle their groove, be it horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
I wouldn't say that it's a new sound for them, however. Tortoise, for instance, also went through similar style changes. But the progress of Kukangendai is based on different motives and mechanisms. One must be the change of musical tastes and preferences of its members. Another, more importantly, is their use of difference and repetition. The gap-making repetition has the potential to generate countless variations of sound effects, so that new music naturally arises from what they've done, not necessarily or primarily under the direct influence of other artists.
Some tracks in the new album may sound, say, somewhat Latin, and seem too foreign to Kukangendai's music thus far. But they don't mean to introduce such a sound in the album or to approach any preexisting genre. They're creating something on their own and it just happens to resemble another. And that's the same as what happened to their style in relation to minimal music, math rock, footwork and so on.
Kukangendai is a band of difference and repetition. They make (or listen to) a difference in repetition and make a new repetition in the difference; they repeat a repetition (with difference) and a difference (with repetition) to yield an unexpected sound and euphony. Difference and repetition is music. “Tracks” mirrors the vibrance, the robustness of the band at this moment in time, and it's the highest achievement possible for these peerless musicians.
― Atsushi Sasaki