Cornelius - Sensuous
Cornelius, who probably hates being called ‘the Japanese Beck’, here does a very good job of imitating a mental patient let loose in the hospital music room. For this reason, Sensuous, his fifth proper album, is enjoyable at first, but gradually devolves into the sort of self-indulgent wankery that many artists of his ilk (Aphex Twin, Stereolab) are also guilty of. It’s not that it gets worse as it goes on; more that it stays the same, only longer. Trevor Horn (making his first, and probably last, appearance in a Cornelius review) once said that a good album should be a journey. Sensuous isn’t a journey. It starts out as a delicate, sparse little thing (the title track) and ends as a delicate, sparse little thing (Sleep Warm), with most of the tracks in between being delicate, sparse little things. There’s a moment halfway through where Cornelius considers whether to stop tapping his synths and pick up a guitar, but sadly nothing much comes of it except the pointless pseudo-industrial grindings of ‘Gum’ and ‘Scum’. In journey terms, that’s equivalent to looking out the window and deciding not to go for a walk after all.
In its favour, though, this is a rare ‘experimental’ album that isn’t as soul-crushing as that tag implies. Aggravating as they may be to me, a fan of conventional tunes and melodies, the keyboard doodlings and nonsense lyrics make this a perfectly accessible starting point for anyone interested in exploring more of Cornelius’ work. But if you’re not much interested in that sort of thing, it’s probably best you don’t bother with this. Even if it only sells 3 copies (which, let’s face it, is a very real possibility), it won’t stop Cornelius from releasing more of the same in the future. He’ll still be in the hospital music room if you want him.