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Friday, May 1, 2009
By ALEX HOBAN
As one of Japan's better-known ambassadors of idiosyncratic, experimental pop, Naka-Meguro's Keigo Oyamada, aka Cornelius, has enjoyed a varied, internationally acclaimed 15-year career. As well as releasing his own records, he has reworked others', produced music for video games, and even appeared on American kids' TV teaching little nippers across the Atlantic how to count to eight (presumably leaving nine and 10 for another day, when Ryuichi Sakamoto becomes available).
With "CM3," the chronologically titled followup to previous volumes of his remix-album series "CM" and "CM2," Oyamada continues his global gathering, cueing up unlikely musical bedfellows from different geographical and temporal spheres. Britain's Bloc Party and Norway's Kings Of Convenience nestle alongside Japan's Sketch Show and Denki Groove; when old guards James Brown and Sting show up, things start to look a lot like a "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory"-style family sleepover.
But for all its worldliness, remix albums are a slippery business and have to work extra hard to stand out. "CM3" follows a similar path across its 12 tracks: Most of them are rerendered in simple lo-fi, with fragmented acoustic fretwork scattered liberally in place of the original melodies. It's an understated affair offering few surprises. Although by no means an unpleasant listening experience, with so many great names appearing on the record, a disappointing feeling of missed opportunity lingers.