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Cornelius: Tiny Desk Concert

Cornelius performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 6, 2018 (Jenna Sterner/NPR). (Jenna Sterner/NPR)
Cornelius performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 6, 2018 (Jenna Sterner/NPR). (Jenna Sterner/NPR)

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.

Copyright NPR 2019.

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