Cornelius: Tiny Desk Concert Cornelius' Keigo Oyamada deconstructs and reassembles music like it's a neon cubist-pop sculpture. On a rare U.S. tour, the Japanese band brought its complex cool to the Tiny Desk.

Tiny Desk

Cornelius

As Cornelius, Keigo Oyamada has stretched his vision across frenzied indie rock, lush '60s-style pop, psychedelic funk and glitched electronics, all deconstructed and reassembled like a neon cubist-pop sculpture. After a little more than two decades, no one can really imitate his complex cool.

Sporting a pair of sunglasses (always), Oyamada recently brought his band from Japan to the Tiny Desk on a rare U.S. tour, including his longtime collaborator and Pizzicato Five session musician Hiroshisa Horie, drummer Yuko Araki (Mi-Gu, Cibo Mato's live band) and synthesist Yumiko Matsumura (Buffalo Daughter). They're all musicians who tease and poke at music's fringe territory, but still know how to make a song buzz and pop with gleeful curiosity.

Here, Cornelius performs three very different songs from last year's Mellow Waves. There's the robotic groove of "Helix/Spiral," which repeats and mutates the same phrase and melodic fragments in a delicate and strange dance. "In a Dream" is a star-swept landscape that invites the subconscious to search for meaning, its keyboard flourishes and light acoustic strums so breezy you could almost call it a kind of retro-futuristic yacht rock. But set closer "If You're Here" is the real marvel to behold live, as the band performs at different tempos, gradually solving a polyrhythmic puzzle of a slow jam. The song also features one of my favorite guitar solos in recent memory — it's unflashy, but twists, spits and resolves in the most unexpected ways.

Set List

  • "Helix/Spiral"
  • "In a Dream"
  • "If You're Here"

Musicians

Keigo Oyamada (guitar, vocals); Hiroshisa Horie (keyboards, vocals); Yuko Araki (drums, vocals); Yumiko Matsumura (Moog, vocals)

Credits

Producers: Lars Gotrich, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Beck Harlan, Kara Frame, Dani Lyman; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Jenna Sterner/NPR.

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