Keigo Oyamada’s vibrant Trattoria Records, a Polystar-owned imprint that lasted from 1991 to 2002, stood out among the core labels of Tokyo’s Shibuya-kei scene. It also provided a home to Oyamada’s brilliant Cornelius project, in which counterpoint, syncopation and sampling invaded — nay, parasitized — the sunny alt-rock sound of the ‘90s. If Cornelius could encapsulate Shibuya-kei’s eclectic, hyper-pastiche type of retro-chic and its flair for experimentalism on a single record, Trattoria reflected a broader vision where sounds like baroque pop, noise rock, psych, shoe-gaze, trip-hop, lounge and J-pop soccer anthems would all live on one roster.
Trattoria accomplished a lot before going defunct after the release of Point, which many consider the creative peak of Cornelius (Oyamada’s stayed busy since, but little compares to his creative arc from 69/96 to Point). First, Trattoria was an Eastern hub for Western groups, being the first to re-issue ‘60s artists like The Free Design, The Millennium, Bill Wyman and Margo Guryan. It also distributed The Apples in Stereo, Louise Philippe and many other American and European groups, engaging with Shibuya-kei’s thirst for everything Western.
As well as putting out Cornelius records, the label released many of Oyamada’s best productions and collaborations with artists like Kahimi Karie, OOIOO, Pizzicato Five’s Yasuharu Konishi and Takako Minekawa (his wife at the time). His influence didn’t end with studio credits, either: many of the best releases by Salon Music, Hideki Kaji and Indian Rope on Trattoria bear the mark of Oyamada’s Beck-like, Gainsbourg-esque, Stereolab-ish eclecticism.
This mix pairs Cornelius tracks with Oyamada’s production work, while setting aside Trattoria’s Western artists — and its more overt J-pop, alt-rock and avant-garde sounds — in favor of the label’s most inclusively adventurous (adventurously inclusive?) Japanese material, showing off what Shibuya-kei was truly capable of.
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Cornelius – 1969
Cornelius – The Micro Disneycal World Tour
Dots + Borders – 7 Juillet
Salon Music – Golden Brown
Cornelius – Smoke
Indian Rope – Lovely Dada
Flipper’s Guitar – Southbound Excursion
Yasuharu Konishi – Opening Theme
Takako Minekawa – Plash
Cornelius – Star Fruits Surf Rider
Hideki Kaji – Kanojyo Ga Yoko Wo Muku Riyuu
Citrus – Your Building
Kahimi Karie – Son of a Gun
Cornelius – New Music Machine
Venus Peter – Walk Out
OOIOO – Be Sure to Loop
Salon Music – Wanna Be Tied
Takako Minekawa – Lullaby of Gray
Yoshie – Espacio Verde
Cornelius – Point of View Point
Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her – Sister Sister
Indian Rope – Go West
Citrus – Everysong Landed Near by His Fire Place
Cornelius – How Do You Feel
Kahimi Karie – Le Roi Soleil
Hideki Kaji – Ivy Ivory Ivy
Hiromix – Yume Wo Yoku Miru Hito No Hanashi
Luminous Orange – Ken-Ban
Cornelius – 69/96 Girl Meets Cassette
OOIOO – Asozan
Salon Music – Sleepers
Buffalo Daughter – Great Five Lakes (Cornelius Remix)
Yoshie – 7 Colobe 8 Oqui
SKYEYE – 7EYE7
Rovo – KNM!
Cornelius – Fly
Indian Rope – Purple Mania
OOIOO – Mountain Book
Citrus – Big Day Coming from Northwest
Cornelius – Thank You for The Music