Fantasma was released on March 24, 1998
on Matador Records
in the US and UK, and on the artist's own Trattoria
label in his native Japan
. Fantasma was the first Cornelius
album to be released in the United States
Fantasma takes many different styles of music, puts them in a blender, and then runs that through a sieve. Cornelius claims that the album pays homage to all his musical heroes. Identifiable sources are The Clash, The Beach Boys, Music Machine and Beethoven.
The album features the standard mix of electronic and accoustic sounds, as well as the common Cornelius technique of using vocals as an instrument. Streams of nonsense syllables and single words repeated again and again put the focus on how the voice relates to the sound around it. That the actual meanings of the words are supplementary also adds to the appeal of the album internationally.
Keeping with the idea of blended music, none of the track divisions fall exactly on the song divisions. As someone who has played this album on the radio, I can say that this is a mixed blessing. Taken as a whole, the album is an unending stream of fantastic music in a mix of Japanese, English, and Spanish. However, any attempt to start the album at somewhere other than the first track creates a jarring, interrupted feeling.
On the tour to support the album's release in Japan, Cornelius worked out a deal with a local radio station at his final stop to broadcast an additional drum track for one of his songs. Fans were invited to bring a walkman to the concert tuned to 88.1 FM.
1. Mic Check (3:01)
2. The Micro Disneycal World Tour (3:37) : This track was used in a promo for the 1999 NFL season.
3. New Music Machine (3:52)
4. Clash (5:37)
5. Count Five or Six (3:01) : In this song, the time is kept by monotone voices counting from 1 to 6 over and over and over.
6. Magoo Opening (2:08) : The intro track for the album's concert tour. The only track not created by Cornelius.
7. Star Fruits Surf Rider (5:47) : The single for the album. There were two single CDs based on this song, each of which contained half a mix of this song. The idea was that you and a friend would get your ghettoblasters together, each pop in a copy, and play your own slightly-out-of-sync mix on the fly.
8. Chapter 8 - Seashore and Horizon - (3:25)
9. Free Fall (4:06)
10. 2010 (2:03) : Classical music as performed by robots.
11. God Only Knows (7:39)
12. Thank You For the Music (4:53)
13. Fantasma (0:55)
Lyrics for track 13, Fantasma: