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Yellow Magic Orchestra - BGM CD (album) cover


Yellow Magic Orchestra


Progressive Electronic

3.43 | 16 ratings

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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.

Modrigue | 3/5 |


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