Anyone coming to Cornelius' new record in the hope of hearing 'Fantasma'-esque spaced-out pop thrills will be sorely disappointed. 'Sensuous' is an album of sonic experimentation and 'harmonic dissonance' which is every bit as pretentious and unlistenable as that suggests.
The CLUAS Verdict? 3 out of 10
Japanese indie-tronic artist Cornelius is a big pop star in his native country. Here in Europe he's a cult figure best known for his 1997 album 'Fantasma', a wonderful blend of Beach Boys-worshipping psychedelic pop and spaced-out electronica. Irish music fans will also remember a now-legendary double-bill with The Flaming Lips at the Olympia in 1999.
His new album, however, will not live as long in our memories. As far removed from pop songs as possible, 'Sensuous' is a self-indulgent album of experimental noodling with aspirations of being a cutting-edge work of sonic art. In reality, it's no such thing.
For all its liner-note claims of being 'la musique du 21eme siecle', this album sounds horribly dated. In fact, most of the tracks sounds like turgid new-style jazz from the 1980s - 'Fit Song, 'Breezing' and 'Toner' stink with supper-club guitars and slapped funk-bass. You might find these tracks fresh and challenging if your favourite piece of music is the theme from 'Seinfeld'.
Elsewhere, in the title track and 'Like A Rolling Stone' there are ambient atmospherics - in other words, the sort of electronic elevator music that commonly passes for art-house movie soundtracks where an existential anti-hero are lost in some futuristic Asian metropolis.
The only interesting parts are those which sound like other records. 'Beep It' starts off with Kraftwerk-style electronica before Cornelius gives in to those funk-jazz cravings and almost ruins the whole thing.
As for album-closers 'Music' and 'Sleep Warm' (the latter a cover of a tune made famous by Dean Martin), they are gentle acoustic pop songs with electronic flourishes - all reminiscent of Cornelius' own 'Fantasma'. Such is that album's difference to this one that it may well have been made by a different artist.
To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.
2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.