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Cornelius

Polystar

If listening to polymorphous pop star Cornelius’ new album Point induces a sense of dizzying ambiguity, well, then perhaps that’s what the reclusive songwriter intends. Cornelius—the alter ego for indies veteran Keigo Oyamada—has never been about clear-cut genres like rock, jazz or techno, but about blending them all insouciantly into a stylish whole that alternates between the profoundly subtle and the irritatingly superficial.

            Cornelius’ latest follows a run of critically acclaimed releases that have made Oyamada the poster boy for intelligent Japanese indie-rock and cemented his position as a solo talent. Oyamada launched his career as guitarist for cult Shibuya-kei rock band Flipper before venturing out on his own in 1993, adopting the stage name Cornelius after the good scientist in the original Planet Of The Apes.

            His fourth album and first full-fledged studio effort in four years follows the success of Fantasma, a work that set the template for the songs on Point. Kicking off with the electronic noise of “Bug,” Cornelius immediately swerves into the fluffy, disposable retro-pop of “Point Of View Point,” with his thin, reedy voice layered in gauzy harmonies above the music.

            The rest of the album is equally difficult to pin down. Cornelius blithely veers from traditional guitar pop to ambient bird sounds to crunchy metal riffs, often in the course of one song. This sort of postmodern pastiche—a style Cornelius has described as “gucha gucha,” or all mixed up—may have at this point lost its capacity to surprise, but it’s hard to deny that few do it better.

            Japanese fans would seem to agree: since its late-October release, Point—an album that Oyamada charmingly says is “by Cornelius from Nakameguro to Everywhere”—has been riding high in the charts, capping his homecoming after a period of incessant touring and remixing for the likes of Sting and Blur.

Point is available on Trattoria Records.  

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