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YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA

Progressive Electronic • Japan


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Yellow Magic Orchestra biography
YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA is a Japanese-techno-art-pop group. Icons in Japan and the rest of the world, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA are highly innovative and influencing in the world of electronics, similar to KRAFTWERK. Their use of sequencing, drum programming and synths were put to very broad use, making very arty, technological, and sophisticated mechanical music. The band was formed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who collaborated with Yukihiro Takahashi who was a solo drummer, and worked with the art rock group THE SADISTIC MIKA BAND. The bassist Haroumi Hosono, had four solo albums and was a prolific producer. As soon as they all agreed to form YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, the albums started coming out, and the influence of KRAFTWERK combined with a signature flair, and innovative electronics, took off. Synth pop started to become somewhat of a classification for them, but they never dropped the proggy sophistication. The band split up in the mid 80's, which was their peak of commercial acceptance. The members went on to produces signature music and some of them scoring films. A small reunion happened in 1993.

The bands most notable albums are "Technodelic", "Naughty Boys", and especially "Solid State Survivor".

If you're into Progressive Electronic or KRAFTWERK, these guys could be a great listen for you.


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Second to Kraftwerk in Progressive Electronic innovation in Japan.


Discography:
Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978)
Solid State Survivor (1979)
Public Pressure (1980)
Xoo Multiplies (1980)
BGM (1981)
Technodelic (1981)
Naughty Boys (1983)
Service (1983)
After Service (1984)
Sealed (1985)
12 Remixes (1990)
Best Selection (1990)
YMO in the '90s: The Pete Lorimar Remix (1990)
YMO Mega Mix (1990)
Faker Holic (1991)
4 CD Box Set (1992)
Kyoretsu Na Rhythm (1992)
The Best of Yellow Magic Orchestra (1992)
The Tong Poo Remixes (1992)
Hi-Tech/No Crime: Yellow Magic Orchestra Reconstructed (1993)
Technodon (1993)
Xoo Multiplies Return (1998)
Go Home! The Complete Best of the Yellow Magic Orchestra (2000)
YMO Remixes: Technopolis 2000-00 (2001)
UC YMO: Ultimate Collection of Yellow Magic Orchestra (2003)
Zosyoku (2003)

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BgmBgm
Import
Music on CD 2013
Audio CD$6.04
$6.11 (used)
Ymo Usa & Yellow Magic OrchestraYmo Usa & Yellow Magic Orchestra
Import
Imports 2015
Vinyl$24.59
$35.55 (used)
Naughty Boys & InstrumentalNaughty Boys & Instrumental
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$11.58
$19.99 (used)
Ymo Oversea's CollectionYmo Oversea's Collection
Import
Alfa 1999
Audio CD$22.58 (used)
Twins (Super Best Of)Twins (Super Best Of)
Import
Alfa 1997
Audio CD$31.13 (used)
GijonymoGijonymo
Import
Avex Trax Japan 2008
Audio CD$22.75
$16.85 (used)
TechnodelicTechnodelic
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$6.04
$6.11 (used)
Solid State SurvivorSolid State Survivor
Import
Imports 2015
Vinyl$20.85
$31.75 (used)
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YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.76 | 33 ratings
Yellow Magic Orchestra
1978
2.90 | 31 ratings
Solid State Survivor
1979
2.98 | 16 ratings
Xoo Multiplies
1980
3.43 | 13 ratings
BGM
1981
3.79 | 26 ratings
Technodelic
1981
2.47 | 11 ratings
Naughty Boys
1983
2.43 | 7 ratings
Service
1983
2.43 | 7 ratings
Naughty Boys Instrumental
1983
2.83 | 6 ratings
Technodon
1993

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Live At Kinokuni-Ya Hall 1978
1979
3.50 | 4 ratings
Public Pressure
1980
2.13 | 4 ratings
After Service
1984
3.00 | 2 ratings
Faker Holic
1991
3.00 | 2 ratings
Technodon Live
1993
3.00 | 1 ratings
Winter Live - 1981
1995
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live At Greak Theater 1979
1997

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Best Selection
1990
3.00 | 1 ratings
Kyoretsu Na Rhythm
1992
3.00 | 1 ratings
Hi-Tech/No Crime: Yellow Magic Orchestra Reconstructed
1993
3.00 | 1 ratings
Xoo Multiplies Return
1998
2.00 | 2 ratings
Go Home! The Complete Best of the Yellow Magic Orchestra
2000
2.00 | 1 ratings
YMO Remixes: Technopolis 2000-00
2001

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 BGM by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.43 | 13 ratings

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BGM
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Yellow Magic Orchestra by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.76 | 33 ratings

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Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Solid State Survivor by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.90 | 31 ratings

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Solid State Survivor
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Whilst their contemporaries Kraftwerk were pioneering an icy-cool brand of synthpop suitable for robots and cyborgs, Yellow Magic Orchestra's second album finds them examining ways in which electronic music can have a human heart. The emphasis more on cutting-edge synthpop, with the primitive computer game jungles from the debut being scrapped, and the band even turn their hands to a Beatles cover in the form of a sedated-sounding take on Day Tripper. Got a good reason to listen? Oh, most certainly, because this release finds the Yellow Magic Orchestra graduating from the one-off Ryuichi Sakamoto-led lark of the debut album into a true band effort.
 Yellow Magic Orchestra by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.76 | 33 ratings

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Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Yellow Magic Orchestra by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.76 | 33 ratings

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Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 BGM by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.43 | 13 ratings

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BGM
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by frogbs

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, one of the all time greatest synthesizer albums. Forget the Kraftwerk comparisons for a minute. I love the hell out of KW but they simply didn't have the talent or ingenuity of YMO. This is certainly technopop of the highest order but there is so much going on behind the scenes, some of which you can't hear unless you've got the right system. The overall sound is murky but this was a very conscious decision. Songs like "Camoflague" and "Music Plans" have a skittering, dark feel to them that take several listens to fully digest. And one of the tracks is basically a symphony ("Mass") with electronic beats. You want to talk progressive? Nobody was using an 808 in 1981 for Christ's sake. "1000 Knives" gives you a big dose of the 808 behind one of Sakamoto's earliest compositions, and the result is something incredible. Certainly you've seen people breakdance to beats like this but the frantic synth stabs behind it are something that is rarely heard. YMO was certainly at a highpoint creatively with this - they had enough left over for another album the same year, also a classic.
 Solid State Survivor by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.90 | 31 ratings

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Solid State Survivor
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by frogbs

4 stars The ratings of YMO albums are all over the map on this website and I feel it really misrepresents them. The truth is that their *main* albums (the s/t, this one, BGM, Technodelic, and Naughty Boys) run very close in quality. I agree though that if you're a prog guy this is probably not the album for you. This is where their Kraftwerk influence is perhaps the most felt but it's really just a celebration of technology, or the promise of a "future Japan". Like the first album most of these sounds (which are commonplace today) must have blown some heads in their day. Most of this is light and very catchy but the darker tracks really do reveal a sophistication in their work. You can't put brilliant minds like this together without getting something like that. But poppier moments like "Rydeen", "Technopolis", "Behind the Mask" (ESPECIALLY "Behind the Mask" - has a greater technopop song ever been written?) and that incredible chorus in "Absolute Ego Dance" (where the vocoder comes in) are what it's all about. And if you can't tolerate an ass-backwards cover of "Day Tripper", I don't know what to tell you. Really I'd give this 4.5 stars but I was told by the rules to use 5 stars sparingly so I'm gonna save it for BGM.
 Naughty Boys by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.47 | 11 ratings

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Naughty Boys
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars An upbeat bouncy album that could be considered a cross amalgamation of a more lively and poppy 'Kraftwerk' and Sylvian's 'Japan'. It's not bad at all, but does reek of early 80's keyboard technology and production.

The tunes and vocals are actually very pleasant to my ears, but I'm sure most Prog aficionados will have their hair standing on end and toes curled up in a cramp whilst listening to this synthetic plastic android mess.

The last Yellow Magic Orchestra worth finding. Even then, it may alienate many fans due solely to it's easy listening pop sensibilities. Brilliant production, excellent keyboard separation with decent tunes, but YMO really were light hearted clown buffoons at this point in their careers, with the singular aim of fame and fortune.

It didn't really quite come off, but Ryuichi Sakamoto did have his 15 minutes of glory while starring with Bowie in the excellent film 'Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence' from the same year.

 BGM by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.43 | 13 ratings

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BGM
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Technodelic by YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 26 ratings

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Technodelic
Yellow Magic Orchestra Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Famed for its pioneering use of samples and loops to construct music years before it became a commonplace practice, Yellow Magic Orchestra's fifth album, Technodelic sounds amazingly ahead of its time, with some sections that sound like they could have come out on the latest album by M83 or some other electronically-inclined indie/post-rock act instead of a thirty year old album. With a catchy, compelling beat and a faster pace than a lot of other electronic music at the time, it's no surprise that as well as being a synthpop/electro-rock classic the album would also exert a significance influence over the dance music scene.
Thanks to Retrovertigo for the artist addition.

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