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Yellow Magic Orchestra - Yellow Magic Orchestra CD (album) cover


Yellow Magic Orchestra


Progressive Electronic

3.78 | 48 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
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.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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