On his grandiose and schizophrenic U.S. debut, Fantasma (Matador, 1998), Japanese pomo pop star Cornelius drove wildly different genres together in the sampling equivalent of a demolition derby. Bits of bossa nova, cartoon music and sound effects, drum 'n' bass, garage rock, and sunny pop collided in a delirious mix--but especially in the context of his perfectly video- and choreographed live show, his craftsmanship shone through. Cornelius (whose real name is Keigo Oyamada) has changed course dramatically on his new album, Point, although it reveals a similar level of craft. It's a much more distinctive effort, free of its predecessor's constant stream of pop references and filled with melodies--sung mostly in Japanese--that're as pretty as they are catchy; resonant and meticulously interwoven guitar riffs simultaneously push the tunes forward and curl themselves around Oyamada's whispered words. By no means does the precision take the life out of the music, as it can in lesser hands: the downward whoosh of low-end guitar chords in the chorus of "Smoke" hits like a gust of wind, "Bird Watching at Inner Forest" opens with an array of bird sounds, one of which becomes a key rhythmic element in the jaunty Brazilian groove, and the blast of speed metal on "I Hate Hate" hilariously essays several hard-rock cliches in under a minute. Although Cornelius played everything himself in the studio, he'll be joined here by a trio. Tuesday, August 13, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/courtesy of Polystar/Traitoria.