Cornelius, AKA Keigo Oyamada has been hailed a Phil Spector for the post-rave era, and appropriately so. A native of Japan, his latest album Point is a worthwhile product of a culture that so often reappropriates the West. But seldom do foreign interpretations of our pop-culture heritage get it right. Point contributes its own insight, challenging accepted pop aesthetic by crossbreeding East and West.
The first track “Bug” is a 38-second foreshadowing of the album. A single piano key is hit and suspended, fading to a folk-pop chord before disintegrating into white noise. The rest of the album is an auditory Jell-O mold, with chunks of acoustic guitar, drum machines, and white noise floating in lilting female vocals.
A self-taught guitarist who fed on the American glam and Brit metal of the ’70s, Cornelius is a virtuistic collage artist, as adept at drum and base as he is at mixing four-part harmonies. He pulls out the grinding distortion on the contradictory “I Hate Hate,” and then does a 180 to the soothing croon of “Brazil.” Like the Avalanches, he has expanded the frontiers of the common definition of sampling – in the states, a rut of ’70s-funk fallbacks with focus formula hooks proven to sell albums.
Those who discovered Cornelius on his first U.S. release, 1998’s Fantasm, will hopefully appreciate the progression on Point. As will fans of kitchy, lounge-pop mavens Stereolab. Melding synth with chirping birds, Point is a new species more than fit for survival, a cyborg nightingale singing the body electric.