Point-illism rules

Pete Mortensen

Keigo Oyamada is having fun. The Tokyo native, under his stage name Cornelius, has ended his four-year sabbatical by releasing Point, a full-length CD that crams as much music into 45 minutes as you could ever hope to hear.

The release is playful, genre-hopping, occasionally silly and frequently brilliant. Over the course of 11 songs, Oyamada moves from unorthodox, almost trip-hop-styled tracks to joyous, pounding dance music to ironic heavy metal to tropicalia-inspired jungle pop. He knows music history, and he likes it all.

The second track, “Point of View Point,” is an almost robotic song filled with bleeps and bizarre chanting. “Point view, left, right, point.” The lyrics are nonsensical, but the groove is as infectious as anything Kraftwerk ever committed to wax. If you don’t find your head bobbing throughout, consult your local Dr. Funkenstein for funk-augmentation procedures.

Immediately following “View Point” comes “Smoke,” a chaotic song in Japanese with a huge singalong chorus. This song can make even cats and dogs get along.

And the hits don’t stop. After hearing “View Point” and “Smoke,” you might believe the sound will have to stagnate, or at the very least tail off to some extent. Then you put on “Drop,” and your mind explodes. A simple track built around several voices singing in Japanese and a one-chord acoustic guitar part, “Drop” is the best individual song I’ve heard on an album this year. You’ll understand once you hit the chorus and the elusive but striking melodies all converge for five fabulous seconds. My first time through the record, I listened to “Drop” five times before moving on.

But even “Drop” isn’t the last peak on Point. Both “Brazil” and “Nowhere” are miles ahead of groups Cornelius is often compared to, like Daft Punk and Air (French Band). “Brazil” is a seductive slice of South American pop sung by a computer that recalls both Sam Prekop’s solo album and Radiohead’s “Fitter, Happier” at the same time while emulating neither. It’s stunningly good.

For the last track, “Nowhere,” Oyamada pulls out all of his tricks to create an amazing tribute to great pop songs and albums of the last 40 years. With orchestral swells and a composed feel, the track uses dynamic contrast to build to a musical climax that is Sgt. Pepper for a new generation, right down to a huge, fading piano chord that is interrupted by circular gibberish. It’s the collective musical unconscious condensed to five minutes.

When the last word finally stops and the disc stops spinning, the power of Point will begin to sink in. The melodies, beats and warmth of every song, every minute and every moment will stay with you for days after your first listen. Cornelius has finally reached his potential, and the massive hype campaign of 1998 comes to fruition in one timeless, superlative set of songs. Buy it immediately. Give copies to all your friends. Get the whole world singing. That is, after all, the whole point. nyou