Dusted Reviews

Cornelius - Point

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Cornelius

Album: Point

Label: Matador

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Japanese pop sensation and aural whizkid Cornelius (known to his folks as Keigo Oyamada) is back with his second domestic full-length on Matador, his first album proper since 1998's jaw-dropping Fantasma. Cornelius is a multi-platinum superstar back home, and is a key member of the Shibuya-Kei scene that exported such favorites as Pizzicato 5, Takako Minekawa and Cibo Matto. On his new record, Point, Cornelius wastes no time reminding listeners what makes his records such an agreeable listen. Over the course of forty-five minutes, the good ape Cornelius creates a record that is alternately dreamlike, hypnotic, groovy and beautiful.

A single note on a piano is sounded on the leadoff track, "Bug (Electric Last Minute)," followed by an interspersed hum and syncopated guitars, which builds into a blast of white noise. The sequence takes only thirty-eight seconds to occur, and the accumulation of sound serves as the introduction to the next song, "Point of View Point," which begins with a warm synth tone and expands to include percussive guitars and cut beats in the stereo field. Cornelius wastes no time diving right in to the headphone gymnastics, piling layers on top of layers until the composition becomes a Phil Spectoresque wall of sound.

Cornelius is an excellent musician and he is quite talented at a wide range of instruments and techniques, but the role he plays best is that of producer. His attention to detail and his ear for pleasing sounds are his greatest strengths. The end of the third track, "Smoke," is a clear example of this, as it seemingly slides into an oceanic melt before it becomes "Drop." Indeed, Cornelius seems to have gone back to nature on Point, and organic themes that focus on the biological world flourish throughout the album. Choruses of birds chirp here and there, waterfalls cascade, and oceans wave and fold. "Drop" again demonstrates a master's ability to add successive strata to the skeleton of a song, until it bursts at the seams. In the case of "Drop," it keeps building until the chorus becomes catchy pop bliss.

Cornelius also knows that the secret to a good album is to mix it up a bit and to vary styles. "Tone Twilight Zone," the sixth track, follows the hypnotic funk of "Another View Point," and it offers a reflective counter balance to its upbeat predecessor. Like "Green Arrow," from Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, "Tone Twilight Zone" makes good use of cricket sounds and adds guitar harmonics and strumming to create a pastoral campfire lullaby

"Bird Watching at Inner Forest" is a tapestry of bird sounds, vocal harmonies, stereo guitars and memorable percussion. The mood he has worked so hard to build on preceding tracks is then set on its ear by "I Hate Hate," a buttrock and synth meltdown that is as aggressive as it is abrasive.

Amazingly, he recaptures the mood on the next track with a cover of "Brazil," the theme from the Terry Gilliam's movie of the same name. The listener is transported to a world where two lovesick Nobukazu Takemura robots croon at each other on a moonlit night. "Nowhere" acts as a fitting coda to Point, revisiting some of the key aural concepts Cornelius expounded upon during the album. It is the sound of our two robolovers from "Brazil" strolling on the beach, arm in arm, as the credits roll. To cap it all off, the album ends on a piano chord, revisiting the single note played at the beginning.

If you enjoyed Fantasma, Point is a satisfying listen, and well worth a slice of your precious record-spending piechart budget. However, if you are unfamiliar with Cornelius but like well-produced, fractured pop, you're better off starting with Fantasma.

By Andy Cockle

Other Reviews of Cornelius


Read More

View all articles by Andy Cockle

Find out more about Matador

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.