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(Matador Records)

Taking a bit of a break after his debut album Fantasma and the one-two punch of his CM and FM remix discs, Cornelius is back with a 45 minute release that is much more cohesive than his stateside debut, while still containing moments that are obviously quite wacky. One of the things that's obviously apparent when listening to Point is that traditional instruments find themselves used more. Acoustic guitar and live drum sounds weave their way into every song (albeit, cut up pieces of these), and although things are still obviously heavily manipulated, it makes the release feel much more organic.

Another element that the disc contains much of is simply samples of earth. On one track, water sloshes back and forth creating sort of a backing rhythm, while samples of birds and crickets chirping opens several others. It gets downright tropical in certain places, but it wouldn't quite be Cornelius if he didn't offset those lovely moments with some pseudo-metal freakouts (and he does). Vocals are again sung in about half-English, half-Japanese, but it doesn't really matter because the sound is fun either way.

After opening with a short track of static bursts and elements slowly starting up (like a sampler stretching its arms in the morning), the album starts in earnest with "Point Of View Point" on which a simple guitar strum is repeated underneath some frenetic drumming and light vocals that pan from speaker to speaker. The album really hits stride with the fourth track "Drop," though, when the aforementioned water noises combine with a steady kick beat and more acoustic guitar for my favorite downright pop track of the year so far (and probably for quite some time). Light vocals are again layered in harmony and the chorus will have you making up words to sing along (if you don't know Japanese).

As if to show that writing pop tracks isn't such a chore afterall, "Bird Watching At Inner Forest" is again quite a nugget, with a slick electronic beat and layered acoustic guitar over bird noises. Sure, it sounds silly, but it's infectious at the same time and Cornelius has never been one to shy from cheese anyway. To prove that point, the track following right on the heels of the above is a electric-metal geekfest called "I Hate Hate" which fortunately doesn't last very long.

The album closes out with the laid-back sounds of "Nowhere," with samples of the surf rolling in under synth strings and accompaniment light enough to be played on the deck speakers of the Love Boat. If you like Cornelius and his past work, you're definitely not going to go wrong here. Point is playful and fun, and although it sometimes sounds like different tracks are constructed exactly the same as others, just with different instruments, it also makes for a much more cohesive release than his debut. Others might be turned off by his graceful instrumentals which are followed two tracks later by electric guitars-on-speed, but that's just how he is. Cheestastic.

Rating: 7