Cornelius | Sensuous

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Pop: with Electronic Production Avant Garde: Experimental Moods: Mood: Virtuoso
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by Cornelius

Experimental Japanese artist Keigo Oyamada reinvents the wheel on his third album in 10 years. No one makes music like this guy.
Genre: Pop: with Electronic Production
Release Date: 

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  song title
artist name
1. Sensuous
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4:23 album only
2. Fit Song
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4:01 album only
3. Breezin'
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3:52 album only
4. Toner
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1:34 album only
5. Wataridori
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6:58 album only
6. Gum
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3:47 album only
7. Scum
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0:40 album only
8. Omstart
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4:40 album only
9. Beep It
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4:04 album only
10. Like A Rolling Stone
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3:30 album only
11. Music
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4:54 album only
12. Sleep Warm
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5:48 album only
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Album Notes

Sensuous, the new full-length album from Cornelius, detonates on impact with the listener's consciousness. It's a bold and nearly infinite record, a twisting Möbius strip weaving simulation into reality and back again.

It is, in a word, genius.

Arriving stateside through Los Angeles-based Everloving Records, Sensuous resists all traditional modes of classification. Yet Cornelius (aka Keigo Oyamada) has always marched to the beat of a different drum machine, even in his wildly eclectic habitat of Tokyo, Japan. Since exploding onto the scene in 1997 with Fantasma, his cut-and-paste opus, Cornelius has dazed and amused fans worldwide with his freeform pop aesthetic and playful sense of humor. On Point, his 2001 follow-up, he stripped away much of Fantasma's sonic embroidery, spotlighting edgier rhythms and ambient textures within a pastoral, South American setting.

But those albums (released on his former US label, Matador) constitute only part of the entire Cornelius package. Keigo has established a reputation as a multimedia savant, remixing Bloc Party, Beck, Merzbow, and the late James Brown and working with Ryuichi Sakamoto and lounge-jazz noisenik Arto Lindsay. He's displayed his visual works at the Barbican JAM exhibition and contributed music to the Shhh... exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. He's become a father, too, and still managed to bring his legendary live show to Europe, Australia, Thailand and the US.

With Sensuous, Cornelius further explores the dazzling atmospherics he developed on Point. It's a disciplined sound that's also wildly experimental, bursting with electronic pulsewaves, wood-grain acoustics, minimalist interludes and raw guitar freakouts. Released as an enhanced CD, it features a video for "Fit Song" and an interactive widget of panoramic Tokyo. (Everloving Records will also release the Sensuous DVD this fall with music videos for all 12 songs, plus more special features.) Sure, you could dance to it, but you could also throw on the headphones, sit back in your Eames chair and get whisked away to Keigo's multidimensional planet of sound.

The voyage begins with the title track. Meditation bells chime and shimmer, softly inviting you to surrender preconceptions and enjoy the ride. "Fit Song" immediately thrusts listeners into the fray at a deliberate hyperspeed: kaleidoscopic beats hang suspended in the air; words and plastic synths float asymmetrically like rocks in a Zen garden, hovering on the edge of order and chaos. "Wataridori" echoes the mellow post-rock synthetics of Tortoise's best tracks, while the robotic splash-funk of "Beep It" channels a Quincy Jones production from decades past.

Closing Sensuous with a faux-orchestral arrangement of the Rat Pack classic, "Sleep Warm," Cornelius reinvents the 1958 track as a Vocoder lullaby for children and adults. As the song ends, this switched-on tableaux gives way to tinkling xylophone, then to vinyl static, finally returning to the bell sounds from the opening of the album.

"Returning is the motion of the Tao," says Lao Tzu. The album's circular design reminds us that it's all a dream, a ruse, a sensuous, artificial paradise modeled on the natural, curated by the man who knows the peaks and valleys of our contemporary emotional landscape as much as any composer alive: Cornelius, aka Keigo Oyamada, the visionary postpunk sound designer of the bright new age.


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John Book, Music For America

Sensuous, and if possible, it would be voluptuous too
The music of Keigo Oyamada is anything but predictable. Performing under the name Cornelius, he has managed to sweep people by delivering a mixed-plate of styles, shapes, colors, themes, and schemes, where anything and everything is thrown into the mix and results in something completely unexpected. His latest release is called Sensuous, released in Japan by Warner Music but released domestically by (Everloving/Ryko).

The album begins with chimes and an acoustic guitar, could it be that Cornelius wants to deliver a touching folk-tinged gem? No, because this is Cornelius, who is on the quirky and daring side of life, where instrumentals can be very intense with arrangement and yet be verbally barebone (as is the case with the addictive "Fit Song"). He's comfortable in making music with real instruments, electronic components, and natural sound, or in "Toner" which is essentially the song of a printer being used as an instrument, as if it was some cute Charlie Chaplin film of the 1920's. Some songs would sound perfect as the background for a surf movie, while others are the kind of sounds one could imagine hearing at a French cafe... if it was attended by latex-clad donut workers, complete with intense thrashing guitars and a pounding bass.

This one explores various types of electronic music, from accessible dance tracks to experimental and avant-garde Jan Jelinek-type production where insigngicant portions of sound are molded into the primary focus of a new song. While each song tends to race by on a quick pace, handling it in one sitting is not unpleasant, and one is capable of going on another adventure through the mind of Cornelius.

(PRODUCTION NOTE: I'm not sure if it's just my copy, or that all of the American pressings are this way, but some of the songs seem as if they were meant to segue into or one another, seamlessly.. On the CD, they are indexed so that there's two seconds of silence inbetween each track, with an added second of silence at the end of each track. It is not seamless, and I am unsure if this is what Cornelius intended, since the songs definitely flow as one cohesive piece of work. Fans who are able to make your own CD's may want to edit the silence at the end of each track, and completely remove the gaps between the songs.)

Pamela at CD Baby

Remember when you were driving to your lame part-time college job when over the college radio station they announced that they loved Cornelius’ new release “Fantastma” so much that they were playing from start to finish and you fell ass over tea kettle in love with the record and even showed up late to work because you sat in your car listening to it? No? I guess it was just me… and I can't believe it was 10 years ago. Unique even in his competitively multifaceted home base of Tokyo, this “Japanese Beck” has released a string albums in the US that have been well-received by critics, and built up a cult-like American following. He’s remixed everyone from Bloc Party to James Brown, but his own music is incredibly textural and unpredictable. This latest record is a little more sophisticated than the one I fell in love with in 1997, and it features intensely deep explorations of rhythm, buffed by occasional sparse melodies or crazy sounds, and marked by his trademark patchwork of samples. Between the songs out of left field and pretty songs, it’s clear that Keigo Oyamada is a genius and his music is nothing if not visionary.


Amazing!!!This album is amazing. I love the jumpy flirty guitar worked mixed with the other worldy percussionistic meanderings. This album is definately SENSUOUS!