Record Review

Phases and Stages


Point (Matador) A genuine one-man-band, Cornelius (aka Keigo Oyamada) is writer, producer, and instrument of his own choice. His debut, 1998's Fantasma, is a diverse collage of musical elements heading in 10 different directions, but managing a sense of coherence. Playful in the extreme, it'll make your head spin as you bounce from one rush to another. Point is more of a patchwork quilt. You might not think of grandma's country quilt as a mechanical object, but it's based on a fairly precise grid, assembled from uniform pieces -- one that transcends its mechanical nature by evoking an overall sense of warmth and harmony. Point trades on this same paradox: a precise, almost robotic sense of timing, stripped down to a sonic clarity that borders on sterility, yet resulting in a warm, fun, at times even soothing soundscape. Flowing seamlessly from one song to the next, Point is often self-referential, with bits from one tune suddenly popping up in another, a little trick by which the process is made evident in the product. Cornelius demonstrates that music made with machines is still human music. Driving this point home is a cover of Ary Barroso's "Aquarela Do Brasil," on which vocal duties are convincingly handled by a computer. It's silly, but it's also quite an accomplishment; while Point is ultimately plenty of fun, it's also serious work that can be taken seriously. More unified than Fantasma, it's not necessarily any easier to classify. Then again, maybe it's not so hard: When all's said and done, Point is pop music.

*** .5

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