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Mellow Waves Brendan Telford , September 18th, 2017 13:38

Another lush, exuberant release from Keigo Oyamada, even though it doesn't quite have the magic of his strongest work.

Before sitting down with Mellow Waves, Japanese sonic wizard Keigo Oyamada’s first album in a decade, I only had one clear connection to his work - the 2002 song 'Drop'. It’s from his most recognised record, Point, but it also features on the Matador at Fifteen anniversary compilation. Amid the guitar bands dominating that collection, 'Drop' took me to thoughts of natural rock formations worn smooth by aeons-old wellsprings, a dripping faucet into a dirty coffee cup, overflowing gutters after a storm with the air still burnt from electricity. It also tipped me to the myriad possibilities that are presented when production becomes alchemy: no limits offered, no fucks given, all with an impish grin and a love of endless left-turns and hard brakes. It was truly exhilarating.

Mellow Waves continues the exuberant cut-and-paste enthusiasm and lush, busy soundscapes. 'If You’re Here' is a slow burner, a lounge synth slink that feels like a seductive coffee bar sojourn, all smoke and mirrors, velvet curtains and smouldering cigarettes. 'Dear Future Person' and 'The Spell Of A Vanishing Loneliness' follow in that vein, the former a floating slice of orchestral pop that expands until it is bursting with bright emotion, the latter an Air-breath evocation, incorporating English lyrics and vocal accompaniment from Lush lead singer Miki Berenyi.

On 'Sometime/Someplace', Cornelius offers a syncopation susurration that clutters the aural palette with supple Tortoise-like basslines and a frenetic guitar break swathed in electronic effects that could be 'Paranoid Android' run through Odelay-era Beck. His vocals are soft yet sharp, accentuated by the instrumental mania that crowds around him, a Tetris board of sonic effusion that exudes ebullient assurance. 'Helix/Spiral' takes the robotic vocals and warm analogue synth into a cyclic 8-bit playground. 'The Rain Song' is pastoral folk navel gazing for a parallel universe. 'Surfing on Mind Wave Pt 2' is a gossamer synth sine wave that shimmers with electronic glitter and sepulchral wash, a sine wave peak that is one of the best cuts here.

Mellow Waves reflects its title. Cornelius’s mastery of the mix is still evident, but the album as a whole comes strangely across as a throwback to former glories rather than an expansion of an idiosyncratic universe. Which, from a man who has spent the last decade crafting electrifying scores to game changing anime, making infinite remixes and playing alongside Yoko Ono and Yellow Magic Orchestra, is somewhat underwhelming.