Cornelius is not a man. Nor, for that matter, is he an ape (though the name comes from Planet of the Apes). Cornelius is a musical group founded by Oyamada Keigo (小山田圭吾) in the early 90s after his Shibuya-kei duo with Ozawa Kenji, Flipper’s Guitar, split up. Suddenly a solo act, Oyamada spent the next five or so years crafting his persona and honing his production skills, a sabbatical ultimately culminating in what made it all worth the wait—the music.
1997 saw Cornelius break into various European and American indie scenes with the infectious Fantasma (Matador Records, 1997), a melodic blending of traditional and esoteric poprock elements alongside sounds of nature wrapped candylike around backdrops of digital wash. I remember driving down Venice Boulevard toward the beach when my friend first put it in the CD player, mentioning something about “addictive…” In the strange part of my mind which catalogues beauty, I’m still on Venice Blvd, heading toward the beach, listening to “Chapter 8: Seashore and Horizon.” I’ve never turned back.
A continuation from the Post-Punk Drum Machines and Other Gear post, the Roland TR-606 deserves a post all of its own, having been used by bands such as The Sisters of Mercy and Nine Inch Nails.
The Roland TR-606 Drumatix is a drum machine built by the Roland Corporation from 1981 to 1984. It was originally designed to be used with the Roland TB-303, a monophonic analog bass synthesizer, to provide a simple drum and bass accompaniment to guitarists without backing bands.
Sound Behind the Song: “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails
“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails is built around a densely layered groove featuring the TR-606. The edgy track achieved great chart success for the band.
“When I first got the 606 I carried it around and listened to it like a Walkman, and over the course of a day I would gradually build and re-build a rhythm until it was satisfying to listen to on its own… Drum machines can be cool instruments with a lot of character. I was always disappointed when I heard one being used clumsily, which was most of the time.”
The electronic musician Kid606 mentioned the TR-606 as an inspiration in interviews and confirmed it as an inspiration for his stage name.
The TR-606 has seven synthesized sounds: Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Hi Tom, Lo Tom, Cymbal and Open/Closed Hi Hat.
An additional function labeled accent serves to modify the volume of the entire drum mix on a given beat. This allows, for example, a louder beat 4 in a simple drum pattern: boom-chik, boom CHIK. There is no “swing” parameter on the TR-606. The output is mono.
The Lo Tom and Hi Tom tracks have outputs to trigger an external sound source.
When the closed and open hihat are played together, a 3rd hihat sound emerges.
When the trigger output is in use, the corresponding internal sound still functions normally. The tom track could be employed, for example, to trigger a kick drum synth module.