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Cornelius' Fantasma gets Deluxe Vinyl Reissue and Full-Album Tour

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, August 2, 2016 10:46pm | Post a Comment
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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.

Happy Birthday Nomi Malone: Our fave fictional Showgirl turns 43!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, July 3, 2016 12:03pm | Post a Comment
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It's no secret that here at Amoeba we love, love, love us some Showgirls! I'm talking about Paul Verhoeven's inimitable 1995 stripper dance flick starring Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, and Gina Gershon. I mean, what's not to love? It's a marvelously shot Sin City fable penned by Joe Eszterhas (the mind behind Flashdance and Basic Instinct) about a transient whore dancer with killer nail art skills, a tendency to flail wildly when it comes to food or sex, and a dream of making it big in showbiz. As the story goes, they could have brought anyone aboard this shamelessly camp-tacular cheesewagon: Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul... Nomi Malone is what Las Vegas is all about, and she is the reason I try to celebrate her "uhhh, seven, three...seventy-three" birthday every year with a never "too old for that whorey look" home screening party. This doesn't dissuade me from attending local annual viewing events of course; San Francisco has a rich history of homage when it comes to showing Showgirls.

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What? Weird: Susan Vaslev's Music from Enchanted Forest

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, April 4, 2016 10:05pm | Post a Comment

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Sounding something like the intro to an episode of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre combined with the sonic dapples of a babbling, sun-spangled data stream, Music from Enchanted Forest showcases more than just the superb scope of composer and pianist Susan Vaslev’s synth-scapabilities. It also presents, as the title suggests, a world of sound specifically created to emanate from unseen speakers tucked behind rocks and in the treetops of Enchanted Forest, one of the most beloved homespun roadside attractions the great state of Oregon can boast of. What's more, as the the record states, it is the only known amusement park in the United States that has never been required to pay royalties for their music.
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In more ways than one, or in my opinion anyway, Susan Vaslev is living a rare and magical version of the American dream. Since childhood, she, along with her siblings and mother, has lent immeasurable time and effort to helping her father, Roger Tofte, realize his visionary venture of handcrafting a storybook amusement park among the verdant hills just South of Oregon’s capital city of Salem. Meaning, she’s spent much her life devoted to building, playing in, working for, living by, and—perhaps most importantly—soundtracking a world-class roadside attraction. Let your inner child chew on that for a sec. enchanted forest

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Pretty Good Year: Kelly's Best of 2015 picks...

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 9, 2016 04:49pm | Post a Comment
It seems like 2015 came to a close less than a little more than a week ago...wait, didn't it? Where does the time go? It came and went in another trip around the sun, with the seasons fully cycled and another twelve-month accumulation of art, music, and enjoyment to show for the passage. Listed below are the leaders of the pack where the year in my ears is, er, was concerned. These the repeat-listen flat plastic friends stuck with me thru thick and thin. Oh, and there's a book thrown in the mix as well! Did you dig any of these selections?

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Jessica Pratt
- On your Own Love Again
(Drag City)


There's always one or three endlessly flip-able records that never quite stay filed away, maintaining rather an easy reach in the rotation pile nearby the home hi-fi. Jessica Pratt's sophomore offering On Your Own Love Again is one such record. Built in part of nearly inaudible ambient street sounds indicating a subtle genesis rooted in home-recordings, the layered, spacial delivery of Pratt's soft-plucked folk edged in opaque psychedelia eddies and billows in a cosmos of mellow zones, at times reaching near-exotic levels of effect, but ever retaining a familiar quality. Here and there accompanying lyrics seem to reveal something of the singer-songwriter's personal inspirations, but these revelations are islands in a stream of vocal stylings, lilting like tendrils through a tapestry of rhythmic strums, droning, hums, and filigree. A muted monument of home-spun, dyed-in-the-wool California by way of the Milky Way sound, Jessica Pratt may be compared to many a laudable singer-songwriter forebear, but she is most definitely in a league of her own.

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Cheers to Our Toast, The Sandwitches' last round

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, June 29, 2015 10:22pm | Post a Comment
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lovely photo of The Sandwitches by Rachel Walther

It's been many moons since we've been accorded a fresh platter from San Francisco trio The Sandwitches, and this latest release courtesy of Empty Cellar Records, looks to be their last. Since 2008, bandmates Grace Cooper, Heidi Alexander, and Roxy Brodeur have consistently honed a distinct sound that is, simply put, a little bit old-time country and a little bit roadside oddities rock 'n' roll. Their ability to seamlessly blend twisted yet whimsical girl group harmonies with unfiltered, mood-infused heavy Americana has progressed splendidly with each release, making Our Toast, their third LP, arguably their finest effort to date.
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Before you even get your ears on it, Our Toast is a thing of beauty. Housed in very fine packaging adorned with gold leaf lettering and a cover tribute to unofficial 4th member James Finch (painted by Deirdre White), the record itself (on oxblood wax if you're lucky) is sheathed by a printed inner sleeve featuring lyrics on one side (lyrics, people!) and a sad clown band photo epitaph on the other–a testament to the posthumous-ish work within. That said, there is a twinging finality vibe to this record that moves beyond the commemorative qualities of the tangible presentation. It's a feeling that lends suspicion to the pulse of each song like an omen or memento mori. And yet, regardless of any time the Sandwitches' sound has been described as "haunting", there is nothing ghostly about this energy at all. It's as if seven or eight of these nine songs are contending for the ultimate setting in sequencing crown: the last cut on side B, the swan song's swan song seat.

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