Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Cornelius "Fantasma" 1997 2 Lp`s Japan Electronic,Art Pop,Psych Pop,Indie Rock,Shibuya-kei ,(100 greatest Japanese albums Rolling Stone)



Cornelius  "Fantasma" 1997 2 Lp`s Japan Electronic,Art Pop,Psych Pop,Indie Rock,Shibuya-kei ,(100 greatest Japanese albums Rolling Stone)
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Cornelius’s Fantasma was a high point of the mid-‘90s Shibuya-kei scene, an eclectic crate-diggers’ subgenre that celebrated old sounds. Its vinyl reissue shows it still sounds fresh in 2016.
By the mid-‘90s, Japanese pop culture had peaked in global coolness. Anime and video games enthralled kids all over the globe, and author Haruki Murakami was starting to gain traction in the English-language world. And although it might not have been quite as universal as Pokemon, Shibuya-kei music was winning praise from Western listeners. The genre’s mish-mash of sonic references and samples spanning the entire 20th century caught the ears of non-Japanese labels, leading to the ‘60s-swooning of Pizzicato Five and lounge-tronica of Fantastic Plastic Machine seeing widespread release. Nothing captured as much critical attention, however, as Keigo Oyamada’s Cornelius project, whose 1997 album Fantasma came out Stateside one year later via Matador Records. Soon after, the Shibuya-kei movement became oversaturated and its biggest names drifted to new sounds. 
Fantasma marked the high point for the movement, and has since been celebrated as the style’s ultimate triumph. The Japanese music media isn’t big on “all-time” lists, but when the mood strikes, Cornelius’ third proper album always winds up in the top ten. All this canonization has the side effect of making Fantasma feel like an artifact, a musical museum devoted to a scene that could never exist outside of ‘90s Tokyo. Portland-based imprint Lefse’s new vinyl reissue—featuring four enjoyable bonus tracks, albeit songs that aren’t on the album for a reason —reminds that what makes this set of songs special hasn’t aged. Like Endtroducing… or Discovery, Fantasma took the (often literal) sounds of the past to create something new and exciting, while also ending up a celebration of the process of finding, listening and creating music. 

It’s fitting Shibuya-kei’s finest statement came courtesy of one of the people most central to its emergence. Coming of age during Japan’s economically booming Bubble years, Oyamada had time to play in bands and spend hours exploring Tokyo’s well-stocked record stores. Alongside Kenji Ozawa in the group Flipper’s Guitar, he crafted songs drawing inspiration from all sorts of eclectic sources—the Scottish post-punk of Orange Juice, Madchester, bossa nova, the Monkees’ movie debut Head. Despite a tendency to swipe melodies wholesale, they pushed a slew of new sounds into the Japanese music conscience…….by Patrick St. Michel…Pitchfork….~



Agressively colourful, violently tuneful, totally irregular and both exhilarating and occasionally annoying, cartoony to an extreme of cut n’ paste dementia. Exotica-noise-electronica-lounge-pop. It works, not always but it does generally sound bright, beautiful and confident, a gleefully subversive candy coated childhood carousel with a spike or two here and there. Plus “New Music Machine” is fantastic….by…Tezcatlipoca …~


I was born in the year 2000. In 2010, I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD). This means that I was never one to fully appreciate genres like ambient, drone, or some variations of noise music. I could never sit down and listen to something like that without the sense of boredom overcoming me. Since the turn of the millenium, electronic music has begun exploring new grounds of experimentation that appeal to this hyperactive demographic. Artists like Secret Mommy and Iglooghost make incredible, intricate pieces of music that never stay in the same place for more than a few measures. Every idea these artists have end up somewhere in their artwork, and the ability to cram it all into a three or four-minute piece is astounding. Due to my age and diagnosis, I started craving that kind of sound, pieces that were so chocked full of ideas that no listener could unpack everything offered in just a few casual listens. 

In 1997, Keigo Oyamada (who records under the pseudonym of Cornelius) correctly predicted this new wave of electronics with his album Fantasma. From the very first song, Mic Check, he is toying with the stereo field, finding and pushing its outer limits by messing with whatever he can find and recording it. This is more than making sure everything functions properly. It is an example of Cornelius figuring out exactly what his equipment is capable of doing, and placing markers where he thinks he could expand upon his creative concepts. Every moment afterwards, from the childlike wonder of The Micro Disneycal World Tour to the Beach Boys-esque harmonization on Thank You For The Music, all the songs are either original genius or an equally clever twist on an idea. 

On several occasions in Fantasma, audio is tweaked ever so subtlely that a certain passage can convey two meanings at the same time. Arguably the most pronounced refinement like that is in Clash. In the chorus of that song, the word is repeated by Oyamada’s ultra-soothing voice. He will layer his own timbre under and over itself to create lush chords that are almost perfect, yet they still retain the human element. However, in this moment, something feels off. Listen to Clash and notice how the chorus can occasionally feel unsettling, while no individual sound is actually contributing to that. It is somehow altered in a way that makes the listener not completely comfortable, but easily accepting. Another instance would be Star Fruits Surf Rider, when every layer will sync up to create a peaceful or soporific mood except for the sequenced drums. Those are rather chaotic and haywire, just loud enough to make the listener notice them but not be overwhelmed. 

Fantasma is a face-to-face conversation with Oyamada, an exploration of what exactly is possible in the realms of acoustic and electronic music. While the listener and the performer are deep in the ardent discussion, the performer lets a secret become known. He knows what the future holds, and presents it with the song 2010. It is not nearly as long as most of the other pieces, at barely over two minutes. In a sense, though, it could be considered the most important song here. Cornelius predicts what music will sound like in the titular year. It’s packed with melodies, twitching drumlines, computer voices, and every piece of experimentation that was floating around in 1997 but expanded tremendously. Popular music didn’t entirely sound like that 13 years later, but it definitely got around to marking its territory. It is worthwhile to know how early this prediction was made, back when indie rock and art rock were coming into the forefront of the music scene. Sporadic techno like this was not readily available yet. 

It’s hard to not get excited while talking about this album. Such brilliant wit is inside Oyamada’s head, and listening to Fantasma is comparable to actually getting to know the man himself. With stunning reimaginings and interpretations of trip hop, the occasional dip into plunderphonics, and refreshing psychedlic features, there is something for a fan of any genre available in the album. The sheer technical skill alone is reason enough to be in awe. Full of majestic surprises, Fantasma is a one-of-a-kind demonstration of everything good in music at the same time….by…Lavair A…~


Crazy Japanese!! This creative freak may leave the organic behind in his music. But, he throws so much of the “kitchen sink” into his productions that some of it actually sticks. On this his 3rd album, he does push the envelope a bit on editing and electronic manipulation, a bit like Trevor Horn was doing back with the “Art of Noise” the decade before, but with a more crazy animated approach. Heck there’s even a track appropriately titled “Micro Disneycal World Tour”. There are brilliant gems sprinkled here and there, “Clash” goes back an forth from a chilled lounge verse, to a wall of sound chorus. He’ll also introduce hard rock ingredients occasionally to spice things up on “Count Five or Six” if you can get over the annoying counting voice. Followed by a Spike Jones like noise tune on “Magoo Opening” Followed by tropical travelogue soundtrack, with “drums and bass” under chorus “ in “Star Fruits Surf Rider”, followed by the innovative “Chapter 8 Seashore and Horizon” where he makes 2 different sections of the song sound like its being play on two different sections of a reel to reel using play and rewind effects. Then there’s the rockin “Free Fall” that pushes all guitars and electronics to full volume. I mean the variety is endless, which I love, never a dull moment. But, this can be over the top, depends on my mood at the time. Not for repeat listens, but good for a mix here or there. Btw, “Cornelius” is one of the “Planet of the Apes” characters….by…Canvasback …~


I think I have to file this under 'The Annoying Nineties.’ Fantasma reminds me of how I both love and hate the 1990s. On one hand, almost half of the album is brilliant music. I especially like “Chapter 8 – Seashore and Horizon –”, “Star Fruits Surf Rider”, “New Music Machine” plus the two tracks that are partially the same song, “The Micro Disneycal World Tour” and “Thank You for the Music.” (If you disagree with the last statement, please check “The Microdisneycal World Tour – Sean O'Hagan remix.”) But on the other hand, half of the album is also quite irritating. “Mic Check”, “Count Five or Six”, “Magoo Opening” and “2010” are nowhere close to a traditional concept of a song. While I am not a traditionalist, that isn’t a bad thing totally but this may be a little too much. Even more difficult to treat is the fact that every one of these songs has something brilliant to it, whereas – you guessed – the best songs also turn quite annoying now and then. So, Fantasma yearns to be listened as a whole to get everything that is great, but again, sometimes that is tough. 

Furthermore, stylistically the album is very diverse. There is indie rock, psychedelic pop, electronica and big beat. I like it, but anyway the combination is unbearably – and wonderfully – Nineties. (On the other hand again, those who love Fantasma should try the latest two Pepe Deluxé albums.) Yet another 9-tease thing is the continuous tripping with familiar elements in the song titles. You can find “God Only Knows” and “Thank You for the Music” one after another. There are songs called “The Micro Disneycal World Tour”, “New Music Machine”, “Clash” and “Magoo Opening” to show that Cornelius has listened to what he finds essential in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Annoying. Well, let’s admit that in a way Fantasma is close to fantastic, but still I like honestly good melodies more than artificial-artistic tripping….by….fairyeee ….~


Life is stupid. You go to school, then you go to college, then you go to work, then you die. Somewhere in there you deal with people you hate and people you love. When looked at as a timeline though, there isn’t really just a time for fun and carelessness in life, unless you consider retirement a big party. Yet, Cornelius is here to remind us of all those moments during this shitty timeline where we could die happy where we stood. Fantasma is an album, not a collection of songs that you can pick and choose from on Limewire. This is one big piece that values happiness over realism and emotion over logic. Songs like Star Fruits Surf Rider soothe the listener with its beautiful guitar and vocals and then suddenly sends them into a rush with its Drum N Bass chorus, as life itself is speeding up. Chapter 8 - Seashore and Horizon is a perfect campfire song that reminds one of sandy beach sunsets with the people you love. Thank You For The Music is a fantastic finale as it plays through every song on the album by means of a radio, singing “Bye Bye” to a delightful country-rock sort of tune as the album comes to a close with Fantasma. This album is a complete blast and a reminder that even if life is stupid, those tiny moments of bliss are worth it…..by….chickybaby ….~


Fantasma is a work of oddball genius by Japanese soundscape artist Cornelius (real name Keigo Oyamada). He sort of creates his own genre, a heavily produced sort of a “cut & paste” music, an advanced form of dub. He’s both the instrumentalist and the producer. There’s a '60s lounge music feel to a lot of his songs. This is an adventurous album, but it contains several extremely catchy “pop” songs (At least, I think they’d be popular if radio ever dared to play them). “Star Fruits Surf Rider” tops the list here. Other catchy numbers include “New Music Machine” (in English, though it’s hard to tell from the accent), and “Chapter 8-Seashore and Horizon.” “Free Fall” and “Count Five or Six” really rock out (the second is a really neat experiment with an odd time signature). 
His campy sense of humor is apparent from the first track, “Mic Check,” a song put together from silly microphone tests. It’s also apparent in the wacky “Magoo Opening,” which gives away the source of his stage name–Cornelius from the Planet of the Apes. “God Only Knows” is kind of a shoegazer number with a great atmospheric wash of sound in the background. The whole album is interesting, with lots of variety. 
Judging from this and his follow-up, Point, (I’d say this one is slightly better than Point, but only slightly) we’re going to be hearing quite a bit from Cornelius in the future. Sounds like Japan is developing quite a music scene….by….
w00dchaz1965 ….~


Cornelius is the brainchild of Japanese multi-instrumentalist Keigo Oyamada. Performing musician since his teens, Oyamada created his creative alter-ego (the name is an homage to the Planet of the Apes), in the early 1990’s from the ashes of his previous project, Flipper’s Guitar. 
With the 1997 release of Fantasma, Cornelius gained international recognition for his cut and paste style reminiscent of American counterparts Beck and The Beastie Boys. Being called a “modern day Brian Wilson” for his orchestral-style arrangements and production techniques, Cornelius subsequently he became one of the most sought after producer/remixers in the world, working with artists ranging from Blur, Beck Bloc Party, and MGMT, to James Brown. …..~


The late ‘90s were an incredible time for music deconstructionists. With samplers transitioning from professional recording facilities to home studios, musicians had the tools to merge their own compositions with their record collections, creating an elaborate mosaic of sound, something like an auditory version of a teenager’s carefully arranged magazine collage that reveals personality and preference through selection and arrangement. Early Beck records like Mellow Gold and Odelay are the most successful examples of this phenomena but artists across the globe were finding ways to cut-and-paste their favorite sounds into something that revealed a singular vision. Under the sobriquet Cornelius, the Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada made one of the most idiosyncratic yet intimate records of this era with 1997’s Fantasma. 
Fantasma’s opening track “Mic Check” is something of a miniaturized version of the album as a whole: It captures a quick bit of recorded music, the sound of a cigarette being lit, some cats meowing what sounds like “It’s a Small World,” a whistle of Beethoven’s 5th and the titular left-right mic check, all before a knocking breakbeat drops in and the song begins in earnest. It’s a lot of disparate ingredients that somehow congeal into a delicious whole. 
And we haven’t even mentioned how gorgeous it is. Cornelius’ gift for soaring melodies shines throughout the album and, on songs like the single “Star Fruits Surf Rider,” he contrasts his lilting music with manic Aphex Twin-esque drum patterns. 
There’s also a good amount of fuzzy, reverb-heavy guitar rock scattered throughout the album, especially on songs like “Free Fall” and “Count Five or Six.” There’s also more than a few dashes of tropicalia and classical-inspired whimsy on Fantasma but rather than feel jarring, Cornelius’ overriding vision makes the switches between these disparate styles feel like a guided tour over varied terrain. 
In support of the album’s recent vinyl reissue on Lefse Records (which also includes four unreleased bonus tracks), Cornelius is performing the album in full on his current tour. Although full-album performances sometimes reek of gimmickry, it’s fitting for Fantasma, because, as Oyamada himself once said, “Fantasma is a kind of album that only has one entrance and one exit. That is, you can’t listen to if from the middle.” 
Technically, you could, since its best moments hold up well enough on their own but given the opportunity to see it performed in its entirety, Cornelius’ performance of Fantasma should not be missed, either by old fans or those just discovering him. After all, even if a collage is made up of small parts, you still have to stand back to get the big picture……By: Mark Schiff…..~


In Tokyo in the early 1990s, an indie band called Flipper’s Guitar was at the forefront of a new wave in Japanese popular music known as Shibuya-kei. The band’s founder, Keigo Oyamada, would go on to produce under the name Cornelius a series of albums that are among the most innovative in Japanese popular music of the past two decades. Oyamada’s third album under his Cornelius alter-ego, Fantasma (1997), played a key role in putting J-pop on the world map for Western music fans, and Oyamada himself is today one of the most respected figures in the Japanese music industry. This book tells the story of Fantasma’s emergence from the Shibuya-kei scene and considers the wider impact of Oyamada’s work both internationally and on Japanese popular music today. 
33 1/3 Global, a series related to but independent from 33 1/3, takes the format of the original series of short, music-based books and brings the focus to music throughout the world. With initial volumes focusing on Japanese and Brazilian music, the series will also include volumes on the popular music of Australia/Oceania, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and more……~



Over the last few decades selector, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Keigo Oyamada has earned international renown for consistently dabbling in and dishing out albums bursting with busy layers of ingenious pop culture regurgitations and delightfully distorted experiments in sound and vision. Arguably the most enduring and timeless of these is Fantasma—the third solo album he created as Cornelius, released in the U.S. on the Matador label in September of 1997. Back then, it seemed that nigh on every bit of Japanese pop culture was perfectly hep in some way or another, and Matador was killing it in 1997 by pushing not only Fantasma, but also records from “world’s loudest” garage rockin’ power trio Guitar Wolf and Cornelius’ fellow champions of Tokyo’s Shibuya-kei pop scene Pizzicato Five, thus solidifying said (literally “Shibuya-style”) 90s pop movement as “a thing” trending stateside.
Nearly twenty years have flitted by, yet Fantasma sounds just as fresh as its first mic check. To attempt to describe its sound is to strap oneself into the ride once more, for the album plays like a carnival thrill ride of edits, commanding you to let go and let the whole thing take you from beginning to end, climbing up and careening over, under and through a myriad of genres, implements of music making, seemingly endless samples, bleep-bloops and obvious nods to movies like Planet of the Apes, Amadeus, and bands like The Beach Boys and My Bloody Valentine. And when the ride comes to a complete stop, there often remains a curious feeling of having been thrust through a familiar yet foreign fantasyland looking-glass. Perhaps that is the very definition of Fantasma.
That said, it’s about time this sweet baby received a deluxe reissue treatment. And, what’s more, Cornelius may be coming to a town near you to perform the Fantasma album in its entirety, the first show of the tour kicking it off this Thursday August 4th at Oakland’s Fox Theater. What’s even more? Buffalo Daughter badass babe Yumiko Ohno will be playing Bass and Moog in the Fantasma band, and Nosaj Thing is set to open (confirmed for at least the Oakland and Los Angeles shows at the time I type this). If you’ve never had the pleasure, Cornelius live shows are a truly mesmerizing, not-to-be-missed experience of tight-tight-tightly synchronized sounds, light show hypnosis and other visual projections. There is also the likelihood that you— yes you!—may be selected to play theremin on stage with the great ape himself.

But what of the record? The remastered album out on Lefse/Post Modern boasts noticeably cleaner sound or at least the absence of some ambient airiness and pockets of field recording feels that I fancied clocking while listening to the old Fantasma though headphones (with a cheesy “knowing” nod to the Cerebreal side of Something/Anything?). For me, and I think 90s-era completists would agree, the real treat is the addition of bonus tracks to the double LP as they were previously only available if you hunted down the Fantasma singles. The particular inclusion of the terrifically trippy “Typewriter Lesson”, among the other bonii jams, lends perspective to the process of fixing Fantsma’s boundaries, and also sounds like it might be a harbinger of Oyamada’s future collaborations with the one and only Takako Minekawa. Compared to Matador’s initial un-fussy and nearly-nude offering, the pleasingly detailed and appropriately commemorative album artwork is a very welcome upgrade and is more in cryptic-creamsicle sync with the kooky content within. …by… BY KELLY SWEENEY OSATO..~ 




Credits 
Artwork – Masakazu Kitayama, Mitsuo Shindo 
Mixed By [Assistant], Engineer [Assistant] – Nakai-kun* 
Mixed By, Engineer – Toru Takayama* 
Performer – The Ape (3) 
Producer, Written-By, Performer, Mixed By – Keigo Oyamada (tracks: 1 to 5, 7 to 13) 
Technician [Hard-disk Manipulations], Keyboards – Toyoaki Mishima


Tracklist
1 Mic Check
2 The Micro Disneycal World Tour
3 New Music Machine
4 Clash
5 Count Five Or Six
6 Monkey
7 Star Fruits Surf Rider
8 Chapter 8 ~Seashore And Horizon~
9 Free Fall
10 2010
11 God Only Knows
12 Thank You For The Music
13 Fantasma
14 Fantasma Spot
15 Fantasma (Alternate Version)
16 Chapter 8 ~Seashore And Horizon~ (Demo)
17 Typewrite Lesson (Demo)

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