Cornelius - Mellow Waves

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2017-07-14

Cornelius or Keigo Oyamada to his family and friends suddenly popped out on the world scene in 1997 with his third album, Fantasma,  and that sound wave collage of almost everything made a big splash. It seemed that he wasn’t such a prolific guy since he followed it with Point in 2001 and Sensuous in 2006, to wait then 10 years to come up with Mellow Waves. But then, he might not have been active as Cornelius (actually a homage to the Planet of The Apes movie), he certainly was active - Oyamada made quite a few soundtracks of anime and the movies and TV series, joined an electro group (Metafive), collaborated with a J-pop singer and toured with Yoko Ono and Yellow Magic Orchestra. A busy guy with diverse musical interests and tastes (and probably a humongous record collection) does finally come up with a new solo album proper.

The albums Cornelius came up with so far always had two characteristics - there was an absolute mix of everything that seemed to be incongruous together, and the album titles always reflected exactly what you were about to hear on them. From Fantasma as a cross of absolutely anything and everything he liked, through to Point (Harry Nilsson anyone?), to Sensuous (precisely). Mellow Waves is no exception. For those a bit familiar with Bossa Nova (and they love their Bossa Nova in Japan like they love their Tango in Finland), Wave is one of the most famous tunes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the key Bossa composers of all time. But then, Cornelius always a big fan of all things Brian Wilson (particularly his approach to music), and with obvious references to Yellow Magic Orchestra and Japanese approach to electronics, musically, it is exactly what you get -  mellow waves.

Of course, in no way is it just a simple combination of the cited elements, Cornelius obviously has much more ideas, nor is it a straightforward mellowness (try the very busy and rhythmically complex “Sometime/Someplace”). His production experience also shows throughout, knowing exactly how to envelop his subtle vocals with just right instrumental foil. The collaborators are also well chosen and complement Cornelius perfectly, including a lead vocal by Lush lead singer Miki Berenyi on “The Spell of a Vanishing Loneliness”.

The only difference to the previous Cornelius albums under that moniker is the dominance of vocals, which makes this album an obviously more emotional affair for Oyamada, but unless your Japanese is up to the par, it would be hard to tell their substance for us who are not so familiar with the language. Still, to the uninitiated, it should be no distraction to enjoy practically everything on this, should I say, summer mellow album.

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