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

Posted by Kells, August 2, 2016 10:46pm | Post a Comment

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.

That said, it's about time this sweet baby received a deluxe reissue treatment. And, what's more, Cornelius may be coming to a town near you to perform the Fantasma album in its entirety, the first show of the tour kicking it off this Thursday August 4th at Oakland's Fox Theater. What's even more? Buffalo Daughter badass babe Yumiko Ohno will be playing Bass and Moog in the Fantasma band, and Nosaj Thing is set to open (confirmed for at least the Oakland and Los Angeles shows at the time I type this). If you've never had the pleasure, Cornelius live shows are a truly mesmerizing, not-to-be-missed experience of tight-tight-tightly synchronized sounds, light show hypnosis and other visual projections. There is also the likelihood that you— yes you!—may be selected to play theremin on stage with the great ape himself. I'm going! (See confirmed tour dates below)

But what of the record? The remastered album out on Lefse/Post Modern boasts noticeably cleaner sound or at least the absence of some ambient airiness and pockets of field recording feels that I fancied clocking while listening to the old Fantasma though headphones (with a cheesy "knowing" nod to the Cerebreal side of Something/Anything?). For me, and I think 90s-era completists would agree, the real treat is the addition of bonus tracks to the double LP as they were previously only available if you hunted down the Fantasma singles. The particular inclusion of the terrifically trippy "Typewriter Lesson", among the other bonii jams, lends perspective to the process of fixing Fantsma's boundaries, and also sounds like it might be a harbinger of Oyamada's future collaborations with the one and only Takako Minekawa. Compared to Matador's initial un-fussy and nearly-nude offering, the pleasingly detailed and appropriately commemorative album artwork is a very welcome upgrade and is more in cryptic-creamsicle sync with the kooky content within. Check out this nifty "unpacking" video below: 

Don't miss Cornelius nor Fantasma! Get the Indie exclusive deluxe remastered 2LP version on orange wax at Amoeba and get thee to the par-tee! See the tour dates below (looks like there will be more dates to come)!

Relevant Tags

Reissue (31), Vinyl (200), Fantasma (1), Cornelius (5), Shibuya-kei (2)