Japanese avant-pop maverick Keigo Oyamada has the kind of restless creative imagination that has been the hallmark of many of pop music's damaged geniuses (Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson). Oyamada's whimsical, often woozy output as Cornelius strays far from the typical path of retro-flavored pop. On his third outing, SENSUOUS, he favors an exploratory approach that privileges repetition, texture, and production nuance over songwriting craft. Cornelius's fractured, pointillist pop--while not necessarily instantly hummable--literally bristles with tonal color and lush, intricate arrangements.
More focused and thematically cohesive than it's predecessor, POINT, Oyamada chooses to deploy a limited sound palette, leaving most of the detail in the subtle interplay of the respective elements. On "Fit Song," a clipped funk guitar weaves intricate passages around the negative space created by a drummer's loping, skittering rhythms. Vocal elements are used sparingly, as fleeting utterances or percussion-like bass notes--as on the driving rocker "Gum." Overall the album favors warm vintage electric piano tones over its guitar-based equivalents. Bright buzzy synths, windchimes, and keyboards give the album a weightless, light jazz quality; but this is about as far from that universe as it is from most other modern-day pop. SENSUOUS is a carefully crafted, yet bold experiment in future sounds.
Spin (p.84) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "With a calm krautrock singularity of purpose, Oyamada fuses a bristling spectrum of textures and rhythms..."
The Wire (p.43) - "The music on SENSUOUS has the exquisiteness of a lab-produced object, all clean lines and synthetic sheen."
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