Review Summary: A Japanese artist called Cornelius releases an album that captures the essence of 50 years of Western music. What?
Who would’ve guessed that an album that summarizes a good 50 years of Western music came from Japan? Yes, Keigo Oyamada, under the pseudonym of Cornelius, put together an album and a sound that draws from The Beatles, Brian Eno, and all the 80s synth the human mind can handle. Still, with all the influence of old, Sensuous sounds like an incredibly modern album; it sounds like something that might come out of Japan. Cornelius’ way of making music combines so much from so many different spectrums that it is unheard of and brand new.
This is good.
Sensuous is Oyamada’s first album in four years. A cultural cornerstone in Japan, his popularity saw no decrease and sold extremely well upon its release. For a while, the album was only available outside of Japan through import, but he released the album elsewhere this year. Still, 2007 seems too early for an album like this. It is partly due to the insanely meticulous production of this album. It is almost too perfect. Any distortion, haziness, or undefined sound would destroy this album. Each sound is audible and it sits in the perfect position in the phrase, even in the jumpy and fast sections. Wataridori
, the longest song on the album, shows Oyamada’s production ability to its full extreme. Musically, the song is a bit repetitive and flat, but his ability to mix the busy guitar lines with the overpowering bass underneath is masterful. Not to mention the luscious keyboard chords underneath all of it and the various countermelodies that fade in and out. Plus the drum beat. The song revolves around a simple bass line with a memorable slide down and the guitar basically taking a solo over the chord changes. It stumbles its way through variations and odd meter changes, and by about 5 minutes it simply starts repeating itself. Wataridori
is easily the worst full song on the album, even with its brilliant production.
goes through awkward meter changes, Oyamada generally makes the feels strange but interesting. Fit Song
takes a funky guitar tone that expands into a more interesting riff throughout the song, expanding from palm-muted quarter notes. The drums come in and give unpredictable accents as vocal samples, usually the word “fit” fill everywhere else. 80s synth adds more melodic quality to the song and eventually, the guitar that started the song is just a background instrument. The uses of sampled and nonsensical vocals are a typical technique for the album, combining English and Japanese words. Gum
uses random syllables for its vocals, but the music is much more listenable and interesting. Gum
is a fairly straightforward rock song with pounding drums and powerful guitar, although it strums simple chords, extending the same chord for a long time. The bass adds little inflections in the chord while the vocals add all the melodic intricacy with the precision of a robot.
Each song presents a brand new sound. Like A Rolling Stone
is absolutely nothing like the title implies, in fact, it is an ambient track with strange percussion playing rapidly and modulating up and down different scales. Music
is a much poppier and accessible song, with a unique blend of Nintendo-esque electronics and acoustic guitar. Cornelius sings in Japanese until he sings “music”, although it isn’t noticeable unless you really pay attention. His singing voice is actually very good and makes the track very calm and laid back. Music
were the two singles from the album, but Breezin’
presents a poppier style of Cornelius’ electronica-based sound. Much like Gum used repetitive chord strikes, Breezin’
uses a synth that becomes more and more complex throughout. Once again, the vocals are in Japanese. Sensuous, even for its many sounds, actually comes together as a cohesive album, starting and ending on a wind chime melody and divided up in the middle with short segue tracks. It is a very fun listen with a lot of different things to present.
Like A Rolling Stone