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Yellow Magic Orchestra

Progressive Electronic

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Yellow Magic Orchestra BGM album cover
3.44 | 21 ratings | 3 reviews | 19% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ballet (4:34)
2. Music Plans (4:33)
3. Rap Phenomena (4:32)
4. Happy End (4:33)
5. 1000 Knives (5:23)
6. Cue (4:32)
7. U.T (4:33)
8. Camouflage (4:34)
9. Mass (4:32)
10. Loom (5:20)

Total Time: 47:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Yellow Magic Orchestra / arranger

Releases information

Remastered by Sony International in 2003

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA BGM ratings distribution

(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars Bypassing the rubbish sleeve, what's on offer here is some excellent upbeat Kraftwerk clones from around the same period.

Fans of electronic music will love this. There are quite a few elements of 'Sylvian's Japan' present which is understandable considering it was released in the same year as 'Tin Dum' with the help of Sakamoto. 'BGM' is, however, far more electronic and seems to exist in a world of its own. The drums and percussion are as straight as a die, the vocals are androgynous and surprisingly Steve Strange-like. The keyboards are colourful but very early 80's sounding. All of which points in the direction of Kraftwerk.

A more than decent album like all of their recordings up until 1983.

Review by Modrigue
3 stars Yellow Cold Wave Orchestra

Whereas their former opuses are rather playful and could be compared to KRAFTWERK, "BGM" sees the band definitely entering the 80's by offering dark/cold-wave compositions and weaving icy synthetic soundscapes. The title of the album means "BackGround Music", but the music is only partially ambient, as we will see. To be honest, this is also one of the most experimental opuses of the band. The seventies games are now over.

The beginning of the record is curiously not the most interesting. "Ballet" is cold synth-pop tune with a few French spoken words, followed by the robotic "Music Plans", a bit harsh and average with its dated drum sounds. Then come the strangest compositions of the disc. The messy and dissonant "Rap Phenomena" is a bizarre mixture of various atmospheres, including a cheesy Japanese rap. Concerning "Happy End", the music has absolutely no relation to the title. First, this is not the end of the album, and second, this is not happy at all but rather an even weirder ambient experimental piece, mimicking glass sounds. Fortunately arrives now the best track, "1000 Knives". A futuristic opening, a fun ambiance, pre-breakdance beats and playful oriental melodies, no doubt, only a member of YMO could have composed this. In fact, this version is an upbeat and concise reinterpretation of Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Thousand Knives", released 3 years earlier. Refreshing and ahead of its time!

The second half of the record is more homogeneous. "Cue" is robotic cold wave with a slight DAVID BOWIE's feel, whereas the energetic cold-wave "U.T" is darker. "Camouflage" could be described as a ramshackle crossing between KRAFTWERK and Detroit techno, and you can imagine listening the pulsating new-wave "Mass" while playing a vintage video-game. The disc ends with the light aerial "Loom", an ambient track in the style of BRIAN ENO. Enjoyable, but not remarkable. At least, "background music" is an appropriate term here.

What can be said about this curious album? For sure, it's uneven, contains weaker moments, but definitely proves that YMO remains an influential pioneering electronic band at the dawn of the eighties. They searched to evolve and did not want to reproduce the musical recipes of their first records. Even if the final result is not always perfectly balanced, the ideas are various and still present. Adapting their style to then nascent cold/dark-wave ambiances was not as easy, however this opus possesses some pretty cool futuristic and icy passages.

Not the disc to start with for newcomers, nonetheless recommended to fans of the band or early 80's electronic music adventurers.

Latest members reviews

5 stars A number of people have wondered if YMO really belong on a "progressive" webiste. It's true that this as virtually nothing to do with "King Crimson" or "Genesis" or "Canterbury Scene". But let's face it. Progression doesn't have to be done with rock instrumentation only. Case in point this, ... (read more)

Report this review (#847348) | Posted by frogbs | Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | Review Permanlink


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