...a classic songwriting sensibility lifting the artist above a mere knob-twiddling...
Chris Jones 2002-11-20
For the uninitiated: Who or what is Cornelius? Anyone who bought the last album Fantasma (1996) will know that, at times, the concept of Cornelius can try a little too hard to be all things to all people. From exquisite Beach Boys harmonies, indie-Beatles strumalongs and guitar strangling to witty cartoon cut-ups and studio nerd audio verité - the whole album was a heady rush through pop history, seemingly assembled by some mutant Chuck Jones disciple. Things, luckily, have calmed down quite a bit. Cornelius is, in fact, Keigo Oyamada, Japanese superstar DJ and studio boffin and, like many of his countrymen, a real student of western music in its most transcendant guises. Often compared to other modern polymaths such as Beck, the true pop instinct of the man puts him closer to real genre-hopping mavericks such as Todd Rundgren. Having proven that he's at ease with most musical pathways, with Point he has finally produced the album that those in the know always knew he would.
Whereas Fantasma showed off, Point holds back. In a four year gap filled only with two remix albums, Cornelius (named after the scientist from Planet Of The Apes, trivia fans) has honed his inestimable talent to the admirable point where less is definitely more. Over the space of 45 minutes we are treated to a more zen-like experience. The frantic moments still rear up (as in the faux-thrash of "I Hate Hate"), but only as a contrast to the sublime craft on display in tracks such as "Drop" or "Tone Twilight Zone". Described as a "headphone album" the tiny rustle and chirp of electronic insects and real water offer a subtle cushion on which he layers beautifully captured acoustic instruments. Elsewhere on tracks such as "Smoke" and "Fly" we see a classic songwriting sensibility lifting the artist above a mere knob-twiddling panacea. It's this talent which makes it even more acceptable that when he casts a digital wand over an old chesnut like "Brazil", he turns it into a lovely neon-lit lullaby for the 21st century. This is an album that knows exactly where it's going: Back to the future. 2002 couldn't start in a better way.