Japanese audio artist Cornelius compiled the best of his early experiments in dreampop-electronica for his 1997 U.S. debut Fantasma, which jumped from sample-heavy sound installations to grinding guitar-punk to spacey prog-rock with the restlessness of a sugared-up 10-year-old. Given his prior eclecticism, it's stunning to hear the unified, boldly conceptual approach Cornelius takes on his new Point. Where Fantasma shot arrows at an array of stylistic targets, Point focuses on a 45-minute exploration of arrhythmia, divided into 11 choppy compositions that draw heavily from Steve Reich, Kraftwerk, and Tortoise. After an atmospheric intro, Cornelius makes a statement of purpose on "Point Of View Point," painting a soundscape with staccato bursts of guitar, bass, and syncopated electronic percussion, overlaid with high, harmonic, breathy English and Japanese phrases. The circular phrasing of the song's title establishes a pattern of recurrence that runs through the record; most of Point's segments run in circles, and more than once, the word "point" pops up just when the tempo or texture is about to change. The record works well enough in small doses, but it's better as a complete entity. One track gives way to the next, fading seamlessly from the mild disco fury of "Another View Point" to the pinging, New-Agey "Tone Twilight Zone" to the bird whistles and Latin rhythms of "Bird Watching At Inner Forest," and so on. The intricacy and elegance of Point's structure becomes clearer as the pieces come together, working much the way that the CD cover art does: pulling back from a single, blurred blue spot to reveal a different picture when the booklet is unfurled. This is music to take in from all sides, as a magnificent piece of pop architecture.

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