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Yellow Magic Orchestra

Progressive Electronic

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Yellow Magic Orchestra Yellow Magic Orchestra album cover
3.79 | 49 ratings | 7 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Computer Game (theme from The Circus) (6:38)
2. Firecracker (0:02)
3. Simoon (6:28)
4. Cosmic Surfin' (4:27)
5. Computer Game (theme from The Invader) (1:00)
6. Yellow Magic (Tong Poo) (6:20)
7. La Femme Chinoise (6:05)
8. Bridge over Troubled Music (1:00)
9. Mad Pierrot (4:22)

Total Time 36:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Haruomi Hosono / bass, keyboards, electronics
- Tomoko Nunoi / vocals
- Ruichi Sakamoto / percussion, keyboards, electronics
- Yukihiro Takahashi / percussion, drums, vocals, electronics
- Masayoshi Takanaka / guitar
- Minako Yoshida / vocals

Releases information

Remastered on CD in 2000 by EMI

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Yellow Magic Orchestra ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Yellow Magic Orchestra reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars A pretty little electronic album in the same vein as as an upbeat "Computer World' by Kraftwerk, Sexy little analogue keyboards run amok as keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto laments for 'David Sylvian' and 'Japan' whom he'll eventually contribute massively to on 'Tin Drum' in 1981.

The Yellow Magic Orchestra' were almost a replica of Kraftwerk from the far east but with a more human, less robotic feel but equally as electronic. This album, at times sounds hopelessly dated, but at the same time is attractive like a big cuddly Panda giving you big kisses and slobbers across your confused face. Good bubble gum music which is instantly forgettable unless you're into analogue keyboards, in which case its brilliant.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Yellow Magic Orchestra is the debut album by the group of the same name, and I really can't believe how much I like it. Anyone who's been paying attention to my reviews probably understands that I really hate the '80s, and that goes double for '80s electronic music. However, this group's sound is based almost entirely around '80s synth-pop, and I absolutely love it.

The synth-pop flare is very obvious upon first listen, but so are elements taken from classical, jazz, funk, and light usage of traditional Japanese music (all thoroughly electrified, of course). As far as synth-pop goes, the compositions on this album are very sophisticated. A strong mechanical vibe is present throughout the album, and really sounds like the modern- Japanese answer to Kraftwerk, and it works extremely well. Some tracks also include very strong electro-jazz touches that sound similar to Weather Report or the electro-funk era Herbie Hancock.

I tend to enjoy anything funky, jazzy, or Japanese, so this uniquely Japanese-sounding robo- electro-jazz-funk-pop album was something that spoke to me in the sweetest way. This is one of the only '80s albums that I feel is truly essential in the work of progressive electronic, though it may be an acquired taste for people looking for the stark experimentalism of Conrad Schnitzler or the drawn-out cold landscapes of Tangerine Dream.

Definitely recommended for fans of Squarepusher or Ryuichi Sakamoto's solo work.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Yellow Magic Orchestra' - Yellow Magic Orchestra (7/10)

For something fun, weird and silly, I would think Japan is the first place I would go to! Yellow Magic Orchestra is widely considered to be the Kraftwerk of Japan, artistic innovators in the realm of electronic music, back when it was new(er than it is today.) Although undeniably progressive in the way they make use of textures here, the Yellow Magic Orchestra is in fact a progenitor of light synthpop here. There is plenty of catchy weirdness to enjoy here, although it can be said that the campy nature of the work gets out of hand at parts.

I have never been much of an expert in electronic music, but Yellow Magic Orchestra sound certainly ahead of their time. Most notably, this is because the music that Yellow Magic Orchestra are making here sounds like a direct precursor to video game soundtracks. Although Super Mario Bros, Pokemon and Star Fox would not gain popularity for about twenty years yet, the music and sounds used here sound like a total influence or the music and sounds in video games. On a contemporary note, Yellow Magic Orchestra is operating on a similar scope to Kraftwerk, albeit with a much more upbeat sound. 'Space music' was the trend of electronic music in the 1970s, but the sounds of galaxies and nebulae are not overt. Instead of densely orchestrated soundscapes, Yellow Magic Orchestra are using these strange sounds to make incredibly catchy and fun music.

'Live' instruments are kept to a minimum here, and instead, the majority of Yellow Magic Orchestra's compositions are left to the sounds of synths and some scarce vocals, the latter of which aren't usually that good. The most melodic moments of this album are magic, being equal parts quirky, fun, and memorable. There is also the feeling that the music does not take itself too seriously, which can be a good thing in parts, but the silliness sometimes gets out of hand, and this results in a sometimes bumpy experience. While Yellow Magic Orchestra are masters of quaint techno-pop, there are loose sound experiments here that revolve around the musicians dabbling with little more than beeps and boops. The experimentalism is appreciated, but not wholly successful.

If I was going to explain the effect of this music, I may label it as incredibly surreal elevator music. The melodies are light, the rhythms are soothing, and everything is doused in a layer of (potentially drug-laced) icing. 'Yellow Magic Orchestra' is a debut album that is certain only suitable for occasional listening, although it stands as one of the most memorable vintage electronic albums I have yet listened to.

Review by Warthur
4 stars An intriguing demonstration of the musical possibilities of the new generation of synthesisers, the debut album by Yellow Magic Orchestra covers everything from chiptunes to synthpop. With tracks pitched to scratch itches from traditional and orchestral music to disco, all filtered through synthesisers but with the occasional non-synthesiser creeping its way in here and there, at points it does feel a little bit like a tech demo, but few albums were more successful at predicting how synthesisers would change music - and catalysing that change - than this one. Along with Kraftwerk's classic albums, this represents the point where a new pop-focused style of electronic music splintered off from the spacey and more cerebral approaches of prior electronic artists.
Review by admireArt
3 stars It will be unwise, that this paradoxical, half and half , masterpiece, should be denied, at least a listening. Why? For starters, it is an un-matched blend of the best technologies, recording-wise, production-wise and performing-wise, with the perfect-timing and in the the perfect place for this to happen, 1978, Tokio/Japan. Founding members, Hosono, Sakamoto and Takahashi, prior of this release, were quiet familiar with the Tokio underground Dark/ Rock scene, which down there,was like a pre-gothic pioneer of the one we know now. In some way, this was thought to be released as a Haruomi Hosono, solo studio recording. It changed to what we now know as The Yellow Magic Orchestra or YMO. So this first YMO, was upbrought with extreme taste and refinement, it was itself, subversive, conceptually speaking, a direct exposure and satire of the commercialy exploited "exotic "Yellow" culture" marketing, now that post-WW2, had been settled in the past, market-wise. Performed with top of the line,electronic synths, gadgets and paraphernalia ( that is why, it is in the P/E category,I suppose ), a bass/vocalist and a drummer. Of course, the once considered guest, then turned member, and still very productive,up to this day, Ryuchi Sakamoto had the same kind of "sonic-effect", Eno had with Roxy Music. Luckly for Roxy, it never affected the quality of musical composition but enhanced it , opposite to what happens, in this half & half small wonder. (of course this is not Sakamoto's fault, that takes team-work!). Concluding that this is pre-Kraftwerk work, it could easily be marked, for good and bad as the first "synth-pop" album. ...Composition wise, it is as silly and hollow as Kraftwerk's... At least YMO, kind of make a joke about it, BUT in the long run, it could easily be forgotten. Great in everything, but musical composition! ***3 PA stars.
Review by Modrigue
4 stars A promising orchestra

"Yellow Magic Orchestra" is one of the first synth-pop albums, mixing the then nascent pre-techno music of KRAFTWERK with prehistoric video-game sonorities, exotic and Asian melodies. For their debut album, the band were already very creative and innovative at the time, as such musical marriages were entirely new for the the late 70's. Once said, how does it look like?

The two "Computer Game" pieces are fun short compilations of ancient computer and console games sounds, with a few known themes. The playful KRAFTWERK-ian "Firecracker" is in fact a cover the orientalist composition of the same name by Martin Denny. Cool and refreshing. Even if the chosen electronic sonorities contrast a little with the voluptuous ambiance and the jazzy piano, the strange "Simoon" remains enjoyable. However, the tropical "Cosmic Surfin'" is the best track of the record. A fruity electronic energetic tune, with a bass sounding a bit hip-hop!

"Tong Poo" comes in fact from a Chinese song created during the China's cultural revolution. It pre-dates 80's synth-pop and may have inspired eighties' French pop band RITA MITSOUKO. Concerning the robotic and naive "La Femme Chinoise", this track may have influenced this time VISAGE for their well-known hit single "Fade to Grey", with its pre-new wave sonorities and French spoken words. "Bridge Over Troubled Music" is just an ambient transition for the futuristic "Mad Pierrot". An uneven composition, with varied synthesizer sounds.

Compared to the rest of the disc, the bonus track "Acrobat" is rather optional.

"Yellow Magic Orchestra" is a joyful and colorful album in the nascent electronic musical landscape of the late 70's, containing many different ideas that will be reused in the next decade. The music have influenced different styles, such as video-game music, Detroit Techno, hip-hop or even maybe modern experimental electro-pop bands such as STEREOLAB for example. With their first effort, YMO were already considered as pionneers, presenting an Asian and fun response to KRAFTWERK.

An essential listen for synth-pop and vintage computer music lovers, or if you just want a refreshing and original cocktail of various ingredients.

Latest members reviews

3 stars One of the most interesting albums of the late seventies. A mix of early computer game sounds and Japanese techno. This album follows on from where Kraftwerk, Faust and Can left things and is a direct link with later bands like Depeche Mode and even Goldrapp.Standout tracks include la Femme Chinoise ... (read more)

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