thoughts on music, design and literature

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cornelius: Fit Song

From time to time I discover a great new artist so unique and so unusual that I can't help but share his stuff with everyone I meet.

I got turned onto J-Pop (Japanese pop music, for those who don't know) through the soundtrack to a quirky video game called Katamari Damacy. Through various internet forums, I met a guy in Japan who had great taste in music; and for awhile he was sending me a number of MP3s of these great pop, jazz and electronica musicians who were doing the most amazing material over there. There are too many to go into detail here, but I will mention one artist who has several releases already stateside (and is available on iTunes). His name is Cornelius, and he's on the trendy and tasteful Matador Records.

For those musicians out there, this song's a real delight. First of all, it completely inverts the classic hierarchy of the rock band, where the drums and rhythm section establish the barlines; instead, the vocals mark the bars, and the drums are allowed to float all over the place, only occasionally alighting on a downbeat. The way the drums are played too is extraordinary--really melodic, as opposed to rhythmic.

And for those of you who wonder if the verb 'plays' is really appropriate for an electronica-based artist like this, in the case of Cornelius, the answer is an enthusiastic 'yes.' My writer/director friend Jon Goldman and I caught his live show at the El Rey a couple months back, and we both agreed that it was one of the most impressive concerts we'd ever seen. Not only are all the parts played live by his tight-as-all-hell rock quartet (including hocket-rhythms bouncing back and forth between musicians on stage), but they synchronized their playing to their music videos....without click track, as far as I could tell! Astounding.

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