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Mellow Waves

Mellow Waves

UPC: 859761006567

Format: LP

Regular price $28.95
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Given the long amount of time between Mellow Waves and Cornelius' other albums -- it arrived a decade after Sensuous, and two decades after his breakthrough Fantasma -- it would be unrealistic to expect giddy shibuya-kei, or even a direct continuation of his 2000s output. However, listening to the album makes it clear that the same musical mind is at work. The visual quality of Keigo Oyamada's music that was reflected in Fantasma's technicolor collages, Point's pixilated pointillism, and Sensuous' sonic streaks and smears remains, but this time, he didn't edit his music into rigid precision. By setting Mellow Waves free from the grid, its gently undulating songs soothe instead of dazzle, and focus on feelings instead of technique. The results are freer and more open-ended, and more informed by collaborators, than any of Cornelius' earlier music. Two of Mellow Waves' finest songs feature lyrics by former Yura Yura Teikoku leader Shintaro Sakamoto: The pretty, poignant "Dear Future Person" and the trembling opening track "If You're Here," on which Cornelius echoes Sakamoto's tender words about an almost painful attraction with an unsteady beat and an intentionally imperfect guitar solo that captures being overcome by emotion. Later, Lush's Miki Berenyi -- a distant relative of Oyamada's -- gives "The Spell of a Vanishing Loveliness" the kind of sidewinding melody and incisive lyrics she mastered with that band as she tells the story of a woman who escapes her seemingly perfect life. Even on Mellow Waves' less narrative songs, the rejection of perfection leads Cornelius to make fascinating choices, whether it's the loopy guitars on "Mellow Yellow Feel," the lapping harmonies on "The Rain Song," or the way "Crépuscule"'s acoustic guitar resonates and undulates as a callback to Sensuous' title track. Oyamada also filters some his best-loved sounds through Mellow Waves' looser aesthetic on highlights like "In a Dream," a cloudy pop song that riffs on the funky '80s electro-pop he explored on Sensuous; "Helix/Spiral," an asymmetrical, Speak & Spell-driven workout that could be a Point song tilted on its axis; and "Sometime/Someplace," a juxtaposition of Brazilian pop and wildly processed guitars that feels like a fond remembrance of Fantasma. Despite its calm demeanor, Mellow Waves is nearly as intricate as Cornelius' previous albums, and its masterful ebb and flow just gets richer with each listen. ~ Heather Phares


1 - If You're Here
2 - Sometime Someplace
3 - Dear Future Person
4 - Surfing on Mind Wave
5 - In a Dream
6 - Helix Spiral
7 - Mellow Yellow Feel
8 - Spell of a Vanishing Loveliness
9 - Rain Song
10 - Crépuscule