March 15, 2006

Hello! My Name Is Cornelius the Second

This is the second segment in a five-part series on the Japanese pop-experimentalist Keigo Oyamada, of Flipper's Guitar and Cornelius. Here are three tracks, one from each Cornelius LP.

Moon Walk / Cornelius [1995]

“Moon Walk”—one of the few Cornelius songs that actually calls Beck to mind—stomps the fine line between “Novacane” (or “High 5”) and Party Fun Action Committee’s rap-rock parody “Watchu Know Now.” This isn’t Michael Jackson’s magic Billie Jean move. This is an obsessed Michael Jackson fan celebrating his hero’s acquittal by throwing on some actual moon boots and rocking the fuck out.

Chapter 8: Seashore + Horizon / Cornelius [1997] (highly recommended)

Let’s get one thing straight: Shibuya-kei is not a subtle art, and Keigo is not a man of subtlety. He mixes and matches with the flair of someone making a collage using one of those giant purple glue sticks. He brings out the “paste” in the Pastels and leaves thick streaks of color all across his work. And in “Chapter 8” he displays his seams with even more pride than usual. One-half Olivia Tremor Control and one-half lullaby, “Chapter 8” is ostensibly a cycle alternating between the the A-side and the B-side of a tape. The transitions are marked with the sound of a tape deck actually flipping sides. Blatant, but perfectly fitting. Like a giant puzzle with four enormous pieces.

Bird Watching at Inner Forest / Cornelius [2002]

Keigo’s titles tend to be precisely descriptive. “Moon Walk” sounds like one. “Chapter 8: Seashore + Horizon” is literally two different pieces. And “Bird Watching at Inner Forest” highlights a sample of real birds really chirping. This obviousness, while frustrating at times, makes obvious sense at about one minute and twenty-two seconds into “Bird Watching” when the song picks up speed and the chirps are left to fill in only the tiniest gaps in sound.

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