Cornelius in concert at Sónor Festival, Barcelona and recorded on June 22, 2018 by Radio Nacional España. Cornelius is the moniker of Keigo Oyamada, one of the pioneers of the Shibuya-Kei movement in Japan. Not all that well known in the U.S. (for no good reason . . .at all), aside from some very enthusiastic press, Cornelius have released some 6 official albums and 8 remix albums.
In 1997, he released the album Fantasma, which landed him praise from American music critics, who called him a “modern-day Brian Wilson” or the “Japanese Beck”.
Oyamada was born in Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan. His first claim to fame was as a member of the pop duo Flipper’s Guitar, one of the key groups of the Tokyo Shibuya-kei scene. Following the disbandment of Flipper’s Guitar in 1991, Oyamada donned the “Cornelius” moniker and embarked on a successful solo career. He chose his pseudonym in tribute to the character of the same name from the movie Planet of the Apes. He commissioned a song, about himself, on Momus’ 1999 album Stars Forever.
In 2005, The Spinto Band referenced him in their song “Japan Is An Island” on their album Nice and Nicely Done.
As of September 2006, he was no longer signed to Matador Records.
In 2006 and 2007 respectively, the song “The Micro Disneycal World Tour” from the Fantasma album, was used for Nick Parks’ “Creature Comforts” and Sky television’s “See, Surf, Speak” advertisements in the UK. It had also been used several years earlier in an ironic NFL (US football) television commercial in the USA, which juxtaposed the song’s relaxing qualities with video clips showing rapid, aggressive football playmaking.
In 2010, he contributed the song “Katayanagi Twins Battle Song” to the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
In 2013, he participated with Taku Satoh and Yugo Nakamura directing the music for the exhibition Design Ah! at 21 21 Design Sight in Tokyo.
American music journalists often describe Cornelius’s musical style as being similar to Beck’s, whom he acknowledges as an influence along with The Beach Boys, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream and the Brazilian band Kassin + 2, among others. The music of Cornelius could be described as experimental and exploratory, and often incorporates dissonant elements alongside more familiar harmonically “pleasing” sounds. This tension, plus his practice of bringing in sounds and samples from mass culture, pure electronic tones, and sounds from nature (such as on his Point album), lead him to being sometimes categorized as an “acquired taste.” But . . what do critics know?
Crank it up and check it out yourself. May love it – may hate it – at least you got to hear it.