Cornelius

w/South Sun
Sun Aug 18,

Showbox,

$13 adv/$15 dos.

For the FIrst time in ages, Cornelius--born Keigo Oyamada--returns to treat us to all the shimmering, gloriously skewed electronic noise-pop we can devour. The Tokyo native comes back to the States in support of Point, a more meditative offering than the schizophrenic splatter that was his 1997 debut, Fantasma. That's not to say the teen-idol-turned-respected-producer has completely abandoned his desire to slam looped beats and shiny, happy Shibuya-kei melodies headfirst into abrasive guitar skronk ("I Hate Hate" being ample evidence of that). But this effort is characterized more by its calm, DJ Krush-like ambience (water, birds, and crickets abound), exotica-tinged arrangements, and reliance on harmonies as sweet as a stroll down the candy aisle at Uwajimaya instead of a shove "100 genres into a grinder and see what comes out" aesthetic.

It's hard to say what brought about the musical change--perhaps the usual culprits like boredom, maturity, or spending too many hours remixing Sting songs (yes, sadly, it's true)--but the end result is still mighty innovative and satisfying, and the same should be true for the show. Though Oyamada crafted Point entirely by himself in his tiny home studio, he fronts a full band for Cornelius gigs. No hoodied beat junkies hiding behind racks of samplers, oh no no--these are animated apes, not Gorillaz! You're gonna be throttled by no less than three wall-of-noise guitars, grooved by bossa nova beats, and confronted with karate spacemen, three-dimensional kaleidoscope lights, and loads more multimedia goodies.

The extravagant live setup provides one explanation why it's been so long since we've heard from Cornelius. Not content to focus solely on sound, Oyamada is deeply involved in every aspect of the show--from digital videography (he created five different clips for Point) to conceptual artwork and even fashion. He's known to sport all sorts of threads born from his longstanding creative partnership in the ultra-hip Tokyo street label A Bathing Ape--which also turns out Cornelius-themed T-shirts shrink-wrapped into the form of spray-paint cans, Beastie Boys figurines, and even freakin' beer (the label features the slogan "Ape Shall Never Kill Ape"). The merchandise table may almost be as fascinating as what's happening onstage--strap yourself in for total sensory overload.

by Michael Alan Goldberg