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Cornelius - Point

  by David McNamee

published: 12 / 2 / 2002



Cornelius - Point
Label: Matador Records
Format: CD

intro

Contradictory and colourful new album from increasingly acclaimed Japanese solo artist who sounds like he is catching "the first and fastest bullet train out of neo-Tokyo."


Cornelius was always a little too style-mag over substance for me, a suspicion confirmed by his subsequent flirtation with similar primate-fixated fashion sluts Nigo and Gorillaz. The Japanese music I liked was Pizzicato Five, Shonen Knife, Melt Banana and Cibo Matto; glossy postmodern Shibuya-Kei which sounded like a jukebox jumble of Western music and culture. Cornelius and his 1998 critically-acclaimed debut 'Fantasma' I didn’t like because Cornelius - Keigo Oyamada to his mum - was “The Japanese Beck” and, frankly, I felt that having a Beck Beck was bad enough without him having some Planet Of The Apes-obsessed little Japanese mini-me. I thought it was music for silly people who only ever needed to buy one CD by a Japanese artist – a passport to ‘cool’ without ever having to risk the trip there. It was music for style-mags. I suspect the real reason, however, I didn’t like 'Fantasma' was because I just didn’t get it. I still wanted to have my hand held through this new music, and Keigo seemed too content playing in his little nebula of nebulousness to worry about holding hands. The week I receive a promo of 'Point', Cornelius’ long long awaited second album, I buy a new goldfish and name him Keigo. Contradictions, contradictions. Pizzicato Five et al were contradictory because they squished so much disparate music (orchestras, breakbeats, glitch, sassy boulevard pop) into something new and beautiful, Cornelius on the other hand is contradictory because his music is both small and big at once. There’s something very, well, at first it seems quite childlike, which makes it small; but then it’s painted in big bright musical colours – like a pop art musical advertising board – which makes it big, but upon closer inspection there’s been so much work put in to the simplest blob of music that the micro-level detail makes it small again; but Cornelius rarely bothers with ‘proper’ singy-song lyrics and deals only in nice chunky simple themes which are definitely big. But colour seems so important to his work because always, always, always his music sounds more like its been painted than played, and painted only in the brightest most hopeful of colours. His music brims with a positivity that in Japanese pop could previously only be considered cheesy. And the main difference between 'Point' and 'Fantasma' isn’t in the music which some would tell you has become more ‘noodly’ or ‘muso-y’, it’s in the tone. 'Fantasma' was full of a bright Fizzyade® orange – both in musical content and artwork - which was a bit Jeff Koons and made you want to run around lots; 'Point' on the other hand is a narrow-streaming of more subdued pastelish colours that all seem to be tunnelling out into something new and different and shiny. It all sounds like it’s heading somewhere, a point qualified by the promo liner notes which suggest that 'Point' is a “headphone album”. The last track is called ‘Nowhere’, I’ll tell you what it’s like if I ever get there. By the way we encounter toy-town thrash in the brilliantly named ‘I Hate Hate’ (oh but if only Slipknot knew…) and a heartbreakingly cute singing computer in ‘Brazil’. But everywhere 'Point' sounds like it’s catching itself the first and fastest bullet train out of neo-Tokyo, the Tokyo (and by that, of course, we mean all of Japan and all of the Japanese) that us Western media sluts love to refer to. A futuristic cityscape full of technology and congestion where pop aesthetes hang out sipping oxygen with manga-babe models, a place where irony is inverted into a sincerity that’s beyond deadpan. That’s the Japan that James Lavelle saw in Nigo’s funny little dolls and t-shirts and thought would be ‘cool’ and marketable and something that The Face would really dig. But that’s not Keigo’s Japan. 'Point' signs off with something that sounds like a tiki-theremin version of the original Star Trek theme, a hazy dissolve of flat tones, a clash of piano and a ‘POINT! STOP THE. MU-SIC.’ But just before the CD ends there’s the ominous background ruffle of a new instrument being plugged in... Cornelius may have arrived somewhere completely new and exotic, but there’s still places to go, lots more fun things to do. Maybe the goldfish bowl is getting too small for him.



Track Listing:-
1 Bug
2 Point Of View Point
3 Smoke
4 Drop
5 Another View Point
6 Tone Twilight Zone
7 Bird Watching At Inner Forest
8 I Hate Hate
9 Brazil
10 Fly
11 Nowhere


Label Links:-
http://www.matadorrecords.com/
https://twitter.com/matadorrecords
https://www.facebook.com/MatadorRecords
http://matadorrecords.tumblr.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/matadorrecs
https://www.instagram.com/matadorrecords/



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