Flashback: It’s a lonely Saturday night at my college radio station back in ’02 when I decide to take a chance on a record based solely on the name of the artist, after all, when could a reference to Planet of the Apes be all that bad? In the months and years to follow I would slowly build upon that first taste and eventually thank my taste buds for evolving. Point, my first experience with Tokyo’s Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada), was a full-on mix of natural and synthetic noise that perked up my ears with every syncopated beat. It slowly became a late night soundscape for the better half of my collegiate career (much to the dismay of my girlfriend, but hey, it’s acquired).
Flash-forward: It’s a lonely Thursday afternoon, waiting for Friday, when I receive the new album from that damn dirty ape. Joy washes over me. Sensuous. Sounds like a good time. A quick transfer of files later and I’m sitting alone with my thickest pair of headphones on, ready to take her all in.
And what a treat it is. Sensuous doesn’t take a huge step forward from Point. In fact, you could probably play them back-to-back and miss the transition. Starting off with the title track, tinkles of wind chimes and a soft reverberated acoustic guitar. Oyamada is easing me in with the soft sound of eminence. That same guitar slowly detunes into the inaudible as “Fit Song” starts up and I realize again why I enjoy Cornelius’s unique style…Stereo.
Oyamada utilizes stereo like no other. A well-placed bass note struck on the right is followed with precision time by a muted clank on the left. Beats stumble over each other in perfect time to create a multi-colored collage of construction paper and the silence in between is just as well placed as the noise. It’s this cut-and-paste style that draws you in, forcing you to pay attention. You’ll find yourself trying to decipher each little bleep on tracks like “Beep It” and “Gum.” And on “Toner” you might actually find yourself captivated by the sound of a copy-machine.
Out of the whole album there are two tracks that really stand out for me though, the first being “Wataridori.” It’s everything I enjoyed about Point and more. It has that same stereo-mixed madness, the kind that makes your eyes dart back and forth trying to follow the sound. The other would have to be the album’s closer, “Sleep Warm,” if for no other reason than it sort of reminds me of the end of The Beatles’ White Album. It just wraps the whole thing up so smoothly. For now I am pretty sure Cornelius just supplied me with another record to fill my nights with, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Please listen to this with headphones on.