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Fantasma

Cornelius

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Album Review

Cornelius fits right in with the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal aesthetic. He sees no difference between pop and avant-garde, high culture and lowbrow trash — he throws it all together, coming up with completely unexpected combinations. The thrill of hearing hip-hop loops morph into sheets of My Bloody Valentine guitar noise, then into sweet Beach Boys harmonies, is what makes his American debut Fantasma such a wonder. It's easy to write Cornelius off as a Japanese Beck, particularly since his pop songcraft is as impressive as the busy, multi-layered production, but it's a little patronizing. Cornelius is operating on his own terms, equally influenced by sunny pop ("Chapter 8 — Seashore and Horizon," boasting harmonies by Apples in Stereo), garagey hard rock, and kitsch (the cartoonish "Magoo Opening"). He assembles the parts in unpredictable ways — the hard beats of "Mic Check" suddenly give way to floating acoustics; "Chapter 8" literally has a tape recorder stopping and starting the different parts — which is why Fantasma is so intoxicating. It is one of those rare records where you can't tell what's going to happen next, and it leaves you hungry for more.

Biography

Born: 27 January 1969 in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Japanese pop-noise savant Cornelius was born Keigo Oyamada in 1969; a self-taught guitarist inspired early on by Kiss and Black Sabbath, his musical alias was later chosen as an homage to the Planet of the Apes film series. A product of the same Shibuya-kei bubblegum scene that also gave rise to Pizzicato Five, Cornelius debuted in 1993 with the EP Holydays in the Sun, the first release from his own Trattoria label. He became a national teen idol in the wake of the release of 1994's full-length The...
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Fantasma, Cornelius
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