It would take a remarkable recording to live up to 1998ís Fantasma, a record so eclectic and wonderfully whimsical that it redefined how many of us hear this all-encompassing oddity known uniformly as "electronica". Luckily, Point [Matador], the latest offering by Japanese electronic guru/whiz-kid/pop-smith, Cornelius(aka Keigo Oyamada), is a remarkable recording. Many were likely awaiting this release with great anticipation, and others with serious doubts that he could pull it off again. Fantasma being such a varied and quirky record, it seemed impossible to top it. But as the great ones always do, Cornelius did not seek to rerecord Fantasma, instead he focused on the electro-acoustic sound that makes up Point and makes it so damn great. Elements of his earlier recording are present here (the slowly progressing layers of sound, the sustaining warm vocals as satisfying as any pop artist's), but on Point Cornelius has reshaped them into a more subtle effort that may elude the trip hop crowd while entrancing those of us still easily taken by a good hook.
Point is at times a great pop record, even if it will never make it to the radio. There is nothing here to sing along to (even if you speak Japanese); but the water sounds, acoustic guitar, and lush harmonies of "Drop" are sure to make your ears stand up and take notice, leading perfectly into the more up tempo, damn near danceable groove of "Another View Point". It almost seems as though Cornelius has shirked the avant-garde playfulness in favor of steadier composition. That is, until track eight, a strange little song called, "I Hate Hate", with its fake metal guitar chaos reminding the listener that Cornelius may seek to draw you in but he will not always make it easy to understand his world. All the electronic oddball wizardry and lush sound cannot prepare one for the delightful nostalgia of the cover "Brazil", yes the theme from the Terry Gilliam film. Subtle, understated, and surprisingly direct, it is one of the albums finest moments- this being a collection of very fine moments.
So long as artists like Cornelius are making music there is hope. Point is still very new so there's time to run out and get it, so you'll look as though you are in the know. I predict it will make it on many a criticís top ten list come December. You donít wish to appear to be a neophyte, do you? Buy it for that reason or buy it because you are one of those people who constantly seeks new adventures in sound. Whatever the reason, go buy Point now