Over the last few decades selector, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Keigo Oyamada has earned international renown for consistently dabbling in and dishing out albums bursting with busy layers of ingenious pop culture regurgitations and delightfully distorted experiments in sound and vision. Arguably the most enduring and timeless of these is Fantasma—the third solo album he created as Cornelius, released in the U.S. on the Matador label in September of 1997. Back then, it seemed that nigh on every bit of Japanese pop culture was perfectly hep in some way or another, and Matador was killing it in 1997 by pushing not only Fantasma, but also records from "world's loudest" garage rockin' power trio Guitar Wolf and Cornelius' fellow champions of Tokyo's Shibuya-kei pop scene Pizzicato Five, thus solidifying said (literally "Shibuya-style") 90s pop movement as "a thing" trending stateside.
Original Video from 1997 release of Cornelius Fantasma:
Nearly twenty years have flitted by, yet Fantasma sounds just as fresh as its first mic check. To attempt to describe its sound is to strap oneself into the ride once more, for the album plays like a carnival thrill ride of edits, commanding you to let go and let the whole thing take you from beginning to end, climbing up and careening over, under and through a myriad of genres, implements of music making, seemingly endless samples, bleep-bloops and obvious nods to movies like Planet of the Apes, Amadeus, and bands like The Beach Boys and My Bloody Valentine. And when the ride comes to a complete stop, there often remains a curious feeling of having been thrust through a familiar yet foreign fantasyland looking-glass. Perhaps that is the very definition of Fantasma.