"BGM" by the Yellow Magic Orchestra is the greatest electronic pop album ever.

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I searched for posts on this album and found a poll and a general YMO thread, but for me this album is so remarkable that it really deserves a thread of its own. I seriously think this is the best techno/electropop album ever made. The production on this shit is so dense that I notice different things about each track depending on what stereo system I'm playing it on.

1. Ballet - I love the rump-shaking beat and the spooky surrealistic lyrics sung by Yuki (who is probably a better vocalist in Japanese than English, but I think his voice has tons of character. The Bryan Ferry comparisons seem lazy)on this. The snare hits are recorded so dry, upfront and middy that they sound like sticks of bamboo cracking and the layers of synths at the end make what would otherwise be repetitive mesmerizing. And that woman speaking French who is in like 10 YMO-related tracks, who is she?

2. Music Plans - More strange English lyrics chorused and vocoded to death (I've listened to this dozens of times and still haven't decoded all of them), apparently about making music itself. The synth textures are more varied and considerately-handled than pretty much anything I've heard — I notice a synth squiggle buried in the mix that I'd never noticed almost every other time I hear it, and any one of the melodies in this could be a hook in itself. Probably my favorite track on the album.

3. Rap Phenomena - The general consensus seems to think this is an ill-advised foray into rap, either forgetting or not knowing that YMO were as famous for their comedy skits as their music. More great production and just lots of fun.

4. Happy End - Probably the weakest track on the album but still fascinating and prescient. Lots of swirling synths and flashes of color with a water-drop drum track under it all — this is "ambient techno" 12 years before the fact.

5. 1000 Knives - I think I prefer Sakamoto's own version, but the one here is a great trove of 808 sounds — and that super-distorted guitar/synth solo!

6. Cue - Another great Yuki vocal with Harry Hosono backing (who also has a very characteristic voice). The fifth-y drone and the insistent bass make this sound hopeful and driving. In fact, it actually makes great driving music!

7. U • T - I don't know what UT stands for, but I imagine this as the theme song to the greatest police drama that never was, with a bizarre middle section with wasp-nesty synths, watery piano and what sounds like a distorted phone conversation.

8. Camouflage - the 808 rhythm on this reminds me of early Aphex twin (like the first Analogue Bubblebath or Selected Ambient Works), and the synths are once again super-layered and varied, with some nice dubby delay effects. The lyrics are short but provocative and imagistic and the bell-like tones closing out the track are gorgeous.

9. Mass - Great sequencer sounds like Tangerine Dream from around the same time and the melodic line sounds an 80s retro-futurist version of the national anthem of some dictatorial country.

10. Loom - the "THX" sound in a watery cave followed by some drones that sound like "On Land" Eno. A slightly anticlimactic ending but still interesting — sounds amazing on headphones!

Whole Foods Employee Typecasting Computer (corey), Monday, 21 June 2010 00:37 (twelve years ago) link

Hear Hear! My favorite YMO album by a long stretch and the versions they played in their Winter Live tour (see Youtube) are even more stripped down, dark and aggro. Gorgeous music.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 21 June 2010 00:42 (twelve years ago) link

I picked this up cheap on vinyl a few weeks back while in Detroit and was especially blown away by the itemized list of their touring gear on the back cover. A synth nerds wet dream for real.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 21 June 2010 00:45 (twelve years ago) link

Haha, Sakamoto's hair in that video is great, and I love the live percussion and the "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" synth sounds.

Whole Foods Employee Typecasting Computer (corey), Monday, 21 June 2010 02:12 (twelve years ago) link

yeah the gear list on the back of the vinyl is insane

there's a darkness to this album that was never present in ymo previously, i guess coinciding with their recent friendship with sylvian and japan. bgm and technodelic is kind of their "dark" period. they became conscious of the new romantic and synth pop scenes, began styling their hair and wearing make up; yukiihiro takahashi's croon is stronger and more pronounced, definitely a sylvian influence. there's also an industrial/synth wave influence, a kind of cold and arid european approach

the japan influence is also their in the sense of rhythm, more disjointed and percussive than their earlier disco/lounge hybrids. obv it's all about the 808 on this album, coated in a sheen of thick chorus and gated reverb so it sounds even clankier and mechanical than usual. the prophet 5 also features heavily, lots of glowing cross-mod fx and wide-screen pads. the prophet 5 in its various revisions was probably the most widely used analog synth in japanese pop up until the early 90s, this album solidified that status

it's certainly one of those albums where you hear something new every time you listen. it's somehow incredibly dense yet spacious and airy, credit to hosono-san for the ability to mix so many sounds with such precision. credit should also go to engineer and programmer hideki matsutake, the task of syncing so many machines to tape must've been immense!

ymo were on top of their game at this point -- everything released by ymo and their immediate family between 1981 - 1983 is pure gold. technodelic continues the bgm vibe except with more samples and a pronounced asian feel, lots of gamelan and kecak for example, but it sounds slightly cleaner and more polished, painting over the dark greys of bgm with warmer colours. kinda blows my mind that both albums were released in the same year

wavestation (r1o natsume), Monday, 21 June 2010 12:24 (twelve years ago) link

btw if you like this period of ymo you should check out testpattern who released on hosono and takahashi's label, yen records

a thread for TESTPATTERN/INTERIOR (cosmic electronic music from japan)

wavestation (r1o natsume), Monday, 21 June 2010 12:28 (twelve years ago) link

btw the woman speaking french is akiko yano

wavestation (r1o natsume), Monday, 21 June 2010 12:41 (twelve years ago) link

btw

wavestation (r1o natsume), Monday, 21 June 2010 12:48 (twelve years ago) link

man "happy end" is such a strange piece of music. there's a different mix included as a bonus track on sakamoto's collab with robin scott, with a deep 808 kick drum pushing it even further into proto-dub techno territory

wavestation (r1o natsume), Monday, 21 June 2010 14:11 (twelve years ago) link

How I wish somebody would write a book on YMO.

disastrous sixth series (MaresNest), Monday, 21 June 2010 14:39 (twelve years ago) link

also "rap phenomena" is neither ill-advised or comical -- hosono touches on some pretty deep stuff if you listen to the lyrics. dude was on a higher plane

wavestation (r1o natsume), Monday, 21 June 2010 14:53 (twelve years ago) link

So happy there's a thread about this album. BGM totally influenced an ep I put out about a year ago and continues to inspire me.. Rio - love your info re: all things YMO. Thanks!

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 21 June 2010 21:49 (twelve years ago) link

hey i'd love to hear your ep! message me privately if need be!

wavestation (r1o natsume), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 00:02 (twelve years ago) link

Hey R1o - the EP is "Down There" as Professor Genius. It's on iTunes, Emusic etc. but pm me and I'll be happy to send you mp3s.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 01:13 (twelve years ago) link

Isn't there an Akiko Yano album from this period where YMO and Japan members collaborated with her? Always wanted to hear that.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 12:28 (twelve years ago) link

you're professor genius? cool music dude

wavestation (r1o natsume), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 12:32 (twelve years ago) link

Yes, that's me. But - not wanting to derail this awesome thread - I thinkthere needs to be a comprehensive YMO comp released outside Japan. With live footage, demos, the works. Up there with the Chic Organization box on my list of fantasy comps.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 13:06 (twelve years ago) link

"Isn't there an Akiko Yano album from this period where YMO and Japan members collaborated with her? Always wanted to hear that.

― ¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:28 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark"

yeah her second album ai ga nakucha ne is co-produced by her then husband ryuichi sakamoto, and features cameos from the rest of ymo, david sylvian -- the rhythm section is basically all karn/jansen. i think her first record was also produced by sakamoto but it's in more of a jazz fusion vein

pretty much everything i've head from that period that's related to ymo is excellent and worth hunting down -- a few highlights include miharu koshi's hosono-produced album tutu, all of the yen records stuff, testoattern, imoyagi land etc etc as discussed in the thread i linked above (also bands all produced by hosono), all the takahashi solo records, hosono's philharmony album, the first couple of sandii and the sunsetz albums, the various things hosono produced for jun togawa and the first guernica album, the amazing awe-inspiringly perfect "bamboo houses"/"bamboo music" single by sylvian & sakamoto, sakamoto's left handed dream album and "the arrangement" single, the ippu do stuff and masumi tsuchiya's solo album, and a lot more that i'm forgetting or haven't even heard of yet. bearing in mind that all of this music and more (not to mention three more ymo studio albums!) was produced in a three year period it's quite impressive

someone else said it on here before, but it's such a cool "scene" where you get ymo, japan, bill nelson, masami tsuchiya, percy jones, members of the plastics and many others all hanging out and featuring on each others records

wavestation (r1o natsume), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 13:00 (twelve years ago) link

plz excuse the typos^^^

wavestation (r1o natsume), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 13:14 (twelve years ago) link

also one of the few 80s music scenes that hasn't been repackaged for 00s hipster beardo types. maybe the music is just too sentimental at times, and the weird bits too infrequent. or is it just too difficult to get hold of this stuff?

it seems like with ymo most people tend to stop at bgm though, and prefer the cosmic disco-lounge of the first two albums. wonder why this is? are the later records just not as easily available?

wavestation (r1o natsume), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 13:25 (twelve years ago) link

Natsume, let's be friends (actually--do I know you from the Jihen board?).

Japanese techno-pop is my favorite genre of music. I think the reason it's not more popular is because there's so little information about it that's written in English. Also, I think Westerners are quick to stereotype '70s/'80s Japanese music as carbon copies of Western music, which is simply wrong. Sakamoto gets all the hype (and I love love love his synth and production work), but Hosono is a treasure of a songwriter. He has worked on thousands of songs. His stuff in the early '80s is so unique and magical. Have you heard Miharu Koshi's 'Boy Soprano' album? The production is amazing.

Naughty Boys is my favorite YMO album. I think it's less popular here because it sounds the most J-pop. I think the average music fan simply doesn't connect with music that sounds too "Asian."

Patrick South, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 13:58 (twelve years ago) link

hi patrick, i think it was you who wrote about how cool the ymo-family scene is!

wavestation (r1o natsume), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:12 (twelve years ago) link

I would love to read about any more recommendations anyone might have for more Japanese Techno-Pop/New Wave/J-Pop. I would love to delve further but historical context etc is somewhat hampered by the language barrier.

I would like to rep for this site tho'

http://www.farsidemusic.com/acatalog/index.html

disastrous sixth series (MaresNest), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:30 (twelve years ago) link

I would like to be able to concentrate on the football and typing simultaneously and without typing 'I would like' too much also.

disastrous sixth series (MaresNest), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:31 (twelve years ago) link

i only own one miharu koshi album, tutu, which is of course amazing. i think this was made before hosono went all digital so i'd be interested in hearing how boy soprano sounds different. he is a fantastic songwriter of course, and is just as good as sakamoto is at balancing catchy melodies with the weirder sound design and experimental stuff. i love the post-ymo stuff he made with the kurzweil k250, the four experimental/ambient albums collected on the monad box are incredible and just as far ahead of the pack as sakamoto's esperanto (another unfuckwithable record). after that, much like sakamoto he delved deeper into traditional pop structures with alot of success. sakamoto got an oscar for the last emperor and went global, while hosono became a national treasure of japan

patrick, have you heard the apogee and perigee single hosono made with jun togawa? i think it's one of my favourite post-ymo thing of hosono's -- it's almost excessively sentimental, but the pristine production, gorgeous melody and ridiculously good vocal performance from jun togawa is completely addictive and saves it from becoming mere karaoke fodder

wavestation (r1o natsume), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 21:18 (twelve years ago) link

I have to track down that Akiko Yano! My fave recent Sakamoto finds are GEMM Collection and Garden Of Light And Life ( I think those titles are correct) Lots of fantastic Fairlight and DX experiments going on there as well as some great J-Pop productions for a variety of vocalists. Oh - and the "Computer Obachan" single is wonderful as well.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Wednesday, 23 June 2010 22:39 (twelve years ago) link

Ha I was just going to ask when Patrick was going to pop up :)

One of my favorites in this period as well is Chakra's "Satekoso" LP- (thanks to Patrick actually). I've had some luck with OG LPs of this stuff but that one is waaayyy scarce.

I'm surprised that nobody has made moves to reissue any of this stateside.. especially if you look at the pre-80 side of things, including tin pan hosono solo LPs, etc. seems like it would have a pretty reasonably broad-ranging appeal

Bangelo, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 23:15 (twelve years ago) link

I've had this on my list for ages, but have not had luck finding the 2003 remaster for under $30. Just might have to give in and dl it. I've had Solid State Survivor, Technodelic and Naughty Boys for a long time. What else? Is Xoo Multiplies worth hearing?

Fastnbulbous, Thursday, 24 June 2010 04:45 (twelve years ago) link

Not if you can't track down the version of "Tighten Up" elsewhere or have a perverse taste for semi-comprehensible YMO sketch comedy

Bangelo, Thursday, 24 June 2010 05:17 (twelve years ago) link

XP - Patrick, are you the chap that runs Tokyo Recohan by any chance?

disastrous sixth series (MaresNest), Thursday, 24 June 2010 06:58 (twelve years ago) link

I discovered YMO a few years ago and they quickly became one of my favourite bands ever, and opened the doors to this strange undiscovered world of Japanese "technopop" or "techno kayokyoku", new wave, etc.

There's quite a lot of info here: http://artcontext.org/music/artskool/jem/index.html
Also http://park10.wakwak.com/~techno/
But these are by no means complete or error-free

There's also a couple of Yahoo Groups (pretty old-world internet, I know, but still quite active):
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/ymorare
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/ymo

There's a few compilation albums from this era worth finding:
- P-Vine "Techno Kayō" (テクノ歌謡) series (8 albums divided between record labels, no CBS/Sony album though), often weirdly transliterated as "Techno Ca-Yo" (with other mistakes in titles).
- SMEJ compilations "Yellow Magic Kayōkyoku" (イエローマジック歌謡曲) and "Techno Magic Kayōkyoku" (テクノマジック歌謡曲), also the newer "Techno Kayō - The Ultimate Collection 1" (テクノ歌謡 THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION 1)
Unfortunately there's a lot of duplication between these though, and the mastering of the SMEJ albums is pretty bad. Loads of YMO-related stuff here though - Hosono especially composed and produced a ton of pop songs around the late '70s/early '80s.

Other stuff I recommend:
- Hosono's SFX and Making of Non-Standard Music (both on the same CD on earlier issues), also all his pre-YMO albums are quite good too though the first few aren't electronic at all (Cochin Moon is all synth, and Paraiso a bit)
- Pizzicato V - Before they were called "Pizzicato Five" they were on Hosono's Non-Standard label (so he produced) as a synthpop band rich in DX7-ly goodness (different singer too)
- Jullan - very obscure but pretty good synthpop
- Nearly everything on Hosono and Takahashi's short-lived Yen Records - Testpattern, Apogee & Perigee, Miharu Koshi, Jun Togawa, Sheena, Guernica, Hajime Tachibana, Interior, Inoyama-Land, etc.
- Takahashi's solo albums Murdered By The Music (1980), Neuromantic (1981) and What, Me Worry? (1982) (his other Yen-era albums are ok-ish, after that it's all a bit meh)
- The Beatniks "Exitentialism" (1981) - Yukihiro Takahashi and Keiichi Suzuki (Moon Riders)
- Moon Riders albums from this era are pretty good from what I've heard so far (Modern Music and Camera Egal Stylo)
- Plastics
- P-Model
- Sakamoto's Ongaku Zukan (音楽図鑑)/Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia (note the latter title is the European version with significantly different tracklisting) and Miraiha Yarō (未来派野郎, often called "Futurista" although not officially titled this AFAIK)
- Saeko Suzuki
- Chakra (mentioned above)
- Logic System - sequencer guy Hideki Matsutake's solo stuff, his 3 '80s albums are great but don't waste your time looking for anything newer

I'm sure there's others I'm forgetting! YMO's live stuff is also pretty good, quite different sound to their studio work and some interesting improv and changes. Also they used no backing tracks until 1983 - it was all played or seqeunced live (their setup in their 1979 and 1980 tours is quite amazing). Loads of great live bootlegs around as well.

"yeah her second album ai ga nakucha ne is co-produced by her then husband ryuichi sakamoto, and features cameos from the rest of ymo, david sylvian -- the rhythm section is basically all karn/jansen. i think her first record was also produced by sakamoto but it's in more of a jazz fusion vein

― wavestation (r1o natsume), 23 June 2010 13:00 (Yesterday) Bookmark"

Ai ga Nakucha Ne is her sixth studio album, her two albums before that - Gohan ga Dekitayo (1980) and Tadaima (1981) are also quite synth heavy and have lots of input from YMO members and Matsutake. Her earlier albums are also quite good, not much synths (though still some, and at least one Matsutake appearance) but lots of Hosono collaborations. There's also her 1978 live album "Tokyo wa Yoru no Shichi-ji" (東京は夜の7時) which has all YMO members playing throughout. I think her work gets less interesting by the mid-80s though, OSOS (1984) has a couple of good tracks but it goes downhill from there.

@Fastnbulbous: If you like music and like dynamic range don't bother with the 1999 (Toshiba-EMI) or 2003 (SMEJ) remasters, they are awful.

@Bangelo: The Snakeman Show sketches on the Multiplies EP aren't YMO, but they were on the same record label and seemed to like each other so collaborated a lot (e.g. the single "Sakisaka To Momonai No Gokigen Ikaga 1-2-3" (咲坂と桃内のごきげんいかが1・2・3), later covered by Sketch Show). But all the YMO tracks on Multiplies are pretty good if you like their earlier stuff.

Zilog Jones, Thursday, 24 June 2010 16:55 (twelve years ago) link

"btw the woman speaking french is akiko yano

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― wavestation (r1o natsume), 21 June 2010 12:41 (3 days ago)"

It's actually Tomoko Nunoi who's speaking French, same as on La Femme Chinoise (she's credited for that, but not on BGM for some reason).

Zilog Jones, Thursday, 24 June 2010 20:56 (twelve years ago) link

A little hunting online tonight and I found the Akiko Yano albums from '80 through '82, including Ai Ga Nakucha Ne. These are fantastic. A YMO lover's dream. I was familiar with several tracks on these already but as a whole they are superb. The one with Japan guesting on some tracks is a real odd bird. Great to hear Sylvian and co. backing AY.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Friday, 25 June 2010 04:22 (twelve years ago) link

you should hunt down masami tsuchiya's rice music as well if you haven't already. bass duties are shared by mick karn and percy jones, drums are all steve jansen. bill nelson plays some guitar and sakamoto contributes a song. it's an amazing album, kinda continues from where japan's tin drum left off. still looking for night mirage by ippu do which is meant to be really good

love that beatniks record. haven't heard much moon riders stuff, what i've heard sounded like quirky devo-esque new wave. keiichi suzuki went on to do the beyond classic earthbound soundtrack for the snes

wavestation (r1o natsume), Friday, 25 June 2010 12:14 (twelve years ago) link

superb record. bought it on a whim for a couple of bucks a few years ago. wasn't into the ymo i had heard up until that point (s/t, ∞ multiples) but bgm really hit me. in a way, it sounds more expansive and wide-ranging than other synth-pop of its time (i may not be schooled enough to really stand behind that claim).

9. Mass - Great sequencer sounds like Tangerine Dream from around the same time and the melodic line sounds an 80s retro-futurist version of the national anthem of some dictatorial country.

yeah, totally. it sounds like they're almost quoting the imperial death march at points. such a great, weird song.

i picked up naughty boys and service recently and have been really enjoying 'em both. wonderful, slightly strange-sounding pop. i also got bill nelson's a love that whirls and (not surprisingly) it has sort of the same vibe (lotsa layers and all sorts of different synth sounds swarming all over the place w/killer melodies)

cheers to all y'all for the recommendations (not that i'll likely be able to score physical copies of most of them) :)

hobbes, Friday, 25 June 2010 22:33 (twelve years ago) link

xpost Yes! Rice Music is excellent. Tsuchiya is/was a hell of a guitar player. I wish Japan would've made an album with him before they split up. His guest playing with them on The Old Grey Whistle Test (or was it TOTP?) is awesome.

Listening to the Ai Ga Nakucha Ne album for the rhird time today as I type. "What's Got In Your Eyes?" is ... Aaaah!

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Saturday, 26 June 2010 00:54 (twelve years ago) link

hobbes - I found the Yano stuff for sale online but as super expensive import cd's (I'm in the US ). I went the BAD WAY and found them as free 128 mp3s easily enough on some weird Viet site.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Saturday, 26 June 2010 00:59 (twelve years ago) link

some of these records were released on major labels and were pressed up in quite large numbers, many finding their way over to the west. rice music for example always turns up on vinyl -- currently $5.00 and £4.45 on discogs. the sandii records as well can be found quite easily. i think the rule is, the more members of japan that feature, the more likely it is to turn up on vinyl

wavestation (r1o natsume), Saturday, 26 June 2010 10:50 (twelve years ago) link

Exactly how popular are YMO in Japan itself? Cult hit? Mondo pop band?

earlnash, Sunday, 27 June 2010 04:34 (twelve years ago) link

Solid State Survivor was the best selling album in Japan in 1980 (over a million copies if you combine LP and cassette sales), Multiplies and Public Pressure also topped the charts that year so they were pretty big then. BGM and Technodelic, however, were commercial suicide in comparison but still peaked at no. 2 and 4 respectively in the Oricon album charts. Their only singles that got in the top 10 were Technopolis (9), and Kimi ni Mune Kyun (2) which was a pretty big success. They played in Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on several occasions in 1980 and 1983, this was probably the biggest venue in the country at the time (it's where The Beatles played in 1966).

Zilog Jones, Sunday, 27 June 2010 21:35 (twelve years ago) link

Gah, and here I thought no one would respond! Excellent comments and recommendations, guys. I've gotta finally track down Ippu-Do's stuff. I've read a lot about them but for some reason have never actually heard them. Time to remedy that.

The Bitter Tears of Petula Clark (corey), Saturday, 3 July 2010 21:32 (eleven years ago) link

Maybe a tough proposition: Name some good post-1984 YMO-related stuff.

The Bitter Tears of Petula Clark (corey), Saturday, 3 July 2010 21:55 (eleven years ago) link

i think ryuichi sakamoto's album Beauty from 89 (90?) is pretty nice. "We Love You" is a rolling stones song with robert wyatt and brian wilson singing on it

http://robotsinheat.com/temp/We%20Love%20You.mp3

jaxon, Wednesday, 7 July 2010 17:46 (eleven years ago) link

^ awesome. thanks

jaxon, Friday, 16 July 2010 20:37 (eleven years ago) link

http://rootstrata.com/rootblog/?p=3706

Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo- Fourth-world Japan, years 1980-1986
By Spencer Doran

Haruomi Hosono – “Down to the Earth“ from Mercuric Dance
Ryuichi Sakamoto – “A Rain Song” from Esperanto
Mkwaju Ensemble – “Ki-Motion” from Ki Motion
Haruomi Hosono – “Air Condition” from Philharmony
Mariah – “Shisen” from Utakata no Hibi
Yasuaki Shimizu – “(Untitled Pieces for Bridgestone)” from Music for Commercials
Mkwaju Ensemble – “Lemore” from Mkwaju
Seigen Ono – “Mallets” from Seigen
Masahide Sakuma – “WINDOWS/Hi!!” from Masahide Sakuma
Geinoh Yamashirogumi – “Agba’a” from Africa Genjoh
Yasuaki Shimizu – “(Untitled Piece for Tachikawa)” from Music for Commercials
Danceries – “Grasshoppers” from End of Asia
Phew – “Closed” from Phew
Haruomi Hosono – “Windy Land” from The Endless Talking
YMO – “Loom” from BGM

jaxon, Friday, 16 July 2010 20:39 (eleven years ago) link

Very nice, thanks.

the food has a top snake of 1 (ulillillia), Friday, 16 July 2010 20:40 (eleven years ago) link

Brilliant mixes, many thanks!

disastrous sixth series (MaresNest), Friday, 16 July 2010 20:48 (eleven years ago) link

yeah thanks alll

不合作的方式 (r1o natsume), Friday, 16 July 2010 21:11 (eleven years ago) link

the part on "Rap Phenomena" where Hosono loops himself going "WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP" is so fucking funny

frogbs, Saturday, 26 September 2020 04:24 (one year ago) link

he sounds so despondent telling everybody to rap

brimstead, Saturday, 26 September 2020 04:30 (one year ago) link

How I wish somebody would write a book on YMO.

― disastrous sixth series (MaresNest), Monday, June 21, 2010 7:39 AM (ten years ago)

otm

sleeve, Saturday, 26 September 2020 04:43 (one year ago) link

Surely it must already exist, and needs to be translated?

If anything they taught us about the free market is correct, even one thing, this book has to be out there already. Otherwise, maybe the uncomfortable feeling we’ve all had over the years is actually the free hand, harassing

Karl Malone, Saturday, 26 September 2020 15:02 (one year ago) link

I had a mooch around the book dept in Disc Union in Shibuya a few years back, there looked to be some YMO related books there but the poor chap behind the counter's eigo was non-existent and he was petrified of the wacky westerner asking daft questions.

Maresn3st, Saturday, 26 September 2020 16:03 (one year ago) link

There's a chapter on Happy End/YMO/etc. in Michael K. Bourdagh's Sayonora Amerika, Sayonora Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop. I got it out of the library just to read that chapter, and now I have to say I can't remember much about it! It was engaging Japanese pop's ambivalent relationship to the West post-WWII, which seems pretty obviously key to what YMO was. But I think I wanted a bit more of your conventional rock biography stuff, about recording the albums, relationships in the band, the industry, etc.

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Saturday, 26 September 2020 16:28 (one year ago) link

I'd like to think that W David Marx would be a good candidate, his book 'Ametora' is fascinating and his music blog writings were always pretty great.

http://neojaponisme.com/category/music-3/

Maresn3st, Saturday, 26 September 2020 17:20 (one year ago) link

Japanese pop's ambivalent relationship to the West post-WWII, which seems pretty obviously key to what YMO was

Can you elaborate on this point?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 26 September 2020 18:19 (one year ago) link

Maybe calling it "key" or speaking of "the West" here is imprecise, but something of the sort was certainly part of the group's conceptual foundation. Calling themselves Yellow Magic Orchestra ironically incorporates Western racism into the name of the group. They do giddily ironic covers of "oriental" easy listening exotica on synthesizers. Their techno-futurism conjures Japan's newfound position as a producer of premier appliances and automobiles such that the country is admired but feared and loathed as a source of economic threat and potential decline in US hegemony. Some of this is gestured at pretty clearly in the English-language skits on X∞Multiplies. Mind you, I don't perceive this theme so much after that point — someone who knows the history/Japanese would be better equipped to address the question. I'd like to read that book too!

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Saturday, 26 September 2020 22:21 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

here's one cool thing I just discovered - you know that bit on "Ballet" where the French woman (same one from "La Femme Chinoise"??) has that speaking bit? well, apparently this is what she's saying:

Je suis fatiguée du même vieux chaos
J'en suis malade
Il devrait y avoir une sortie à ce cul-de-sac

which is the same as the bridge from "Cue"

I’m sick and tired of the same old chaos
there must be a way out of this cul-de-sac.

frogbs, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 14:29 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/yellow-magic-orchestra-bgm/

pretty nice write up, hope this encourages a few more people to check it out

frogbs, Sunday, 7 March 2021 21:28 (one year ago) link

Enjoyed that, interesting to see that the writer quotes from a Peter Barakan interview I did a few years back, kinda emblematic of the paucity of information on the group in English, frustrating given their stature, collectively and otherwise.

Maresn3st, Sunday, 7 March 2021 22:57 (one year ago) link

I never knew Sakamoto sat out for a big part of the album’s writing process!

SQUIRREL MEAT!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 8 March 2021 07:21 (one year ago) link

Happy 40th!

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1373528906315278&set=gm.4276693085709147

Maresn3st, Sunday, 21 March 2021 15:52 (one year ago) link

Listened to YMO a lot last week and I think "Technodelic" is my favourite. "BGM" second. I'm not really a big fan of the first two albums, tbh.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Sunday, 21 March 2021 16:10 (one year ago) link

I kinda feel that a lot of the first two records comes alive in a concert setting.

Maresn3st, Sunday, 21 March 2021 16:14 (one year ago) link

their first one is my least listened ymo I think. I listened to SSS about a trillion times while playing Super Nintendo (in college, as a burnout)

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Sunday, 21 March 2021 16:37 (one year ago) link

I've been on a YMO kick recently (again) and was thinking about how I'd rank their albums. I think it would be something like this.

Naughty Boys
Solid State Survivor
BGM
Service (this jumped up my list recently, especially as I discovered the European version on vinyl which doesn't feature the skits)
Technodelic
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Multiplies

I still haven't heard the reunion album.

My latest discovery is how great the Naughty Boys instrumentals are. Such joyful music.

kitchen person, Sunday, 21 March 2021 18:53 (one year ago) link

I really like "Multiples"!

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Sunday, 21 March 2021 18:57 (one year ago) link

Oh I do really like it too. They're a rare band where I kind of love all the albums I've heard by them. That's just the one I play the least.

kitchen person, Sunday, 21 March 2021 19:01 (one year ago) link

currently:

BGM
Technodelic
Solid State Survivor
Naughty Boys
Service
S/T

but any of those top 4 have been my favorite at some point

x00Multiplies is a hard one to rank. depends on which version. the american version has an unstoppable tracklist and is fun to listen to, but also has repeats from other releases

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Sunday, 21 March 2021 19:02 (one year ago) link

I'd probably rank 'em like this:

BGM
Naughty Boys
Technodelic
s/t
Solid State Survivor
Service
Xoo Multiplies
Technodon

I know BGM is my favorite - I happen to agree with the thread title, but #2-5 are pretty interchangeable, they're all more or less perfect albums in my book

I'm probably underrating Service - I also recently discovered the Euro version which has got me listening to it again. it's not as fun as Naughty Boys but the songs are remarkably sophisticated, particularly given that it was kind of a cash in to begin with.

Xoo Multiplies is a lot of fun (particularly the first side) - I feel kind of weird laughing at it (basically all the humor stems off Western perceptions of Japanese people, right?) but it's so bizarre and idiosyncratic that I can't help it. That said it's not really much of an album, it's basically just got 4 songs on it

Technodon is okay, but as the members themselves admitted they were all in sorta different places musically at that point so it's no secret why it didn't quite work out. It's got a handful of good tracks on it though. I think the two albums done under the Sketch Show name do the band a lot more justice but Sakamoto wasn't on those so I guess they don't count.

of course it's also neat that there are a bunch of solo albums released concurrently which generally feature all the YMO members anyway, and generally tend to be excellent - Hosono's Paraiso & Cochin Moon are amazing proto-YMO albums, Takahashi's Murdered by the Music is a great companion to Xoo Multiplies (but with a lot more actual songs, naturally), Sakamoto's Thousand Knives & B-2 Unit + Hosono's Philharmony are all fascinating experimental electronic LPs, Takahashi's Neuromantic & What, Me Worry? both feature very good technopop songwriting, and of course the album he did as The Beatniks with Keiichi Suzuki is mesmerizing and surprisingly weird, and then there's Hideki Matsutake's Logic....basically whatever facets of YMO you like, there are albums expanding on it

frogbs, Sunday, 21 March 2021 19:53 (one year ago) link

Yeah, I completely agree that the "extended universe" of YMO is a totally integral part of the discography - I think in part because YMO were less of a "band" (in the trad/romanticised sense) and more of a project that went through multiple evolutions anyway. I certainly don't think any of the members would have considered the continual cross-collaboration on non-YMO projects as being secondary or peripheral. When you look at their astoundingly productive 1981 alone (with BGM, Technodelic, Hidariude No Yume AND Neuromantic), I think all those albums are clearly part of the same body of work.

I tend to listen to the S/T and SSS the least - obviously they're chock-full of classics, but the exotica-pastiche-meets-Kraftwerk concept is pretty rigid and a good deal less interesting to me than when they're following their noses to the cutting edge a little more with BGM and Technodelic.

The Sketch Show / CHASM period culminates in the London/Gijon gigs in 2008 that sees a lot of HASYMO, Sketch Show, solo material and a couple of YMO tunes performed under the umbrella of... Yellow Magic Orchestra. So in a sense it's the same as how they've always gone about things.

bamboohouses, Monday, 22 March 2021 11:06 (one year ago) link

Agreed and I think you could also add two Akiko Yano albums in there, Gohan Ga Dekitayo & Tadaiama. even though the songwriting is mostly hers I think the sound is very influenced by what YMO was doing at the time. of course she was sort of an honorary member of the group at the time.

Hidariude No Yume always felt separate from everything else somehow, I always thought of that album as Sakamoto trying to break free of YMO and start his own solo art-pop career with a bunch of high-profile collaborators. A bunch of well known musicians were trying to incorporate "worldly" influences into their work around then - Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, everything Adrian Belew touched - that album seems to fit more into that scene than anything YMO. And I think at this point Sakamoto felt like he was kind of done with YMO anyway.

frogbs, Monday, 22 March 2021 14:06 (one year ago) link

"Venezia", from Hidariude no Yume, is one of my very favorite YMO universe songs, and the whole album is brilliant

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Monday, 22 March 2021 20:53 (one year ago) link

the little bass fill at about 1:13 in is just perfect

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Monday, 22 March 2021 20:53 (one year ago) link

lol the very mention of Venice in any context sticks that song in my head for an entire week

it irritates me that the recent 2xLP reissue used the extra space for instrumentals (the album's mostly instrumental anyway! who needs that??) instead of throwing on all the stuff from The Arrangement. as you probably know "War Head" is the most brilliant thing but it just remains this weird B-side

frogbs, Monday, 22 March 2021 21:04 (one year ago) link

i was trying to make a chronological YMO-universe spotify playlist recently. I gave up out of laziness and also all the things that were grayed out. but i remember that the Arrangement was one of the biggest new-to-me discoveries out of the whole exercise

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Monday, 22 March 2021 21:41 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

still true

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 02:40 (one year ago) link

i will bump this thread every month until it no longer is

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 02:45 (one year ago) link

at that point, i will let you know that you were correct before and keep bumping it

i'm not sure it's the #1 of all-time at the moment, but it's close enough, and i will elevate my love if and when i need to

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 02:56 (one year ago) link

why don't you tell me what #1 is then

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 02:58 (one year ago) link

I don't mean that in an aggressive way

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 02:59 (one year ago) link

lol

i'm not sure, it's not like there's one that immediately jumps out to me as an obvious candidate. but even among ymo and alumni there are a lot of contenders

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 03:05 (one year ago) link

i guess one obvious contender (one that would beat ymo in most non-ilm polls, and probably here too) is kraftwerk. i have trouble ever relegating computer world to anything but top 3 status

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 03:10 (one year ago) link

you know one thing I never realized was how much YT's concurrent solo albums reflected pretty much exactly where YMO was at

Murdered by the Music = Xoo Multiplies
Neuromantic & Exitentialism = BGM
What, Me Worry = Service

not just the same style, but some of the same synths & rhythms. I think some of the exact drum patterns on BGM show up on Neuromantic

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 03:12 (one year ago) link

maybe big science, on some days. does bjork's post or homogenic count as electronic pop?

xp and neuromantic is still my #1 contender for my fav over BGM! it's so fucking good

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 03:31 (one year ago) link

good question. i will listen to them again and get back to you

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 04:00 (one year ago) link

i mean, they gotta

i'm sure there's lots of stuff from the least 25 years that contends but you have to let that stuff marinate for generations

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 04:04 (one year ago) link

right I suppose the definition of "electronic pop" changes along with the technology itself. nobody was really making YMO/Kraftwerk style music when Bjork was doing her thing. that sound has come back somewhat recently but mostly as stuff like Perfume which is in a different spirit. the new Kate NV too, I was thinking that album would deserve a mention in a discussion like this but obviously you don't wanna limit yourself to just stuff like that. if Bjork counts I'd argue that something like Underworld or Denki Groove counts too and suddenly I'm off making dumb mental lists. that said BGM still comes out on top

frogbs, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 04:25 (one year ago) link

https://reverb.com/news/the-gear-of-yellow-magic-orchestra

Maresn3st, Thursday, 20 May 2021 11:50 (one year ago) link

my favourite ymo album has always been naughty boys, the moment where they fully embrace making pop music

ufo, Thursday, 20 May 2021 12:02 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

i may have been hyperbolic in my praise but this is still all-time for me, all killer no filler

clouds, Thursday, 22 July 2021 18:49 (eleven months ago) link

absolutely classic

brimstead, Thursday, 22 July 2021 20:53 (eleven months ago) link

seven months pass...

Rap Phenomena is kind of unbelievable isn't it? It sounds like a parody of electro hip-hop, but it was released in 1981. Before Flash, Run DMC, Planet Rock, or any of that. It was just like, Sugarhill and Kurtis Blow back then. It's like it's making fun of something which doesn't exist yet. Also the lyrics are fucking wild. I know people think it's a weak spot on this album but I kinda love it!

frogbs, Saturday, 26 February 2022 04:59 (four months ago) link

i've heard it called parody before but it's never struck me as such. it's a fantastic track, not weak at all.

visiting, Saturday, 26 February 2022 05:57 (four months ago) link

three months pass...

as probably everyone who gets really into ymo feels, it's just utterly unbelievable that both bgm and technodelic came out in the same year. and they're so different, too.

just learned ryuichi has stage 4 cancer. my chest feels tight. i'm not ready to lose him.

slumpy, Sunday, 19 June 2022 10:38 (one week ago) link

even crazier considering that Yukihiro Takahashi also did Neuromantic (his best solo LP!) and the Beatniks first album with Keiichi Suzuki (also incredibly good!) the same year!! Sakamoto also released Left-Handed Dream that year, which feels like a totally separate thing from YMO. Hosono was incredibly proactive as a songwriter & producer in '81 as well. just a crazy amount of creativity in a short period, can't think of anything else that compares besides, I dunno, The Beatles

frogbs, Monday, 20 June 2022 15:21 (one week ago) link

even crazier considering that Yukihiro Takahashi also did Neuromantic (his best solo LP!)

indeed, just bonkers. i know i've said it a million times, but i will never pass up the opportunity to say that Neuromantic is also, possibly, the greatest YMO-related release of them all. so good

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Monday, 20 June 2022 15:32 (one week ago) link

i'm sorry to hear about sakamoto. I've been listening to his recent music a lot recently, particularly his "Playing the Piano 12122020" release, which is what it sounds like. I remember when that came out, several months into the pandemic, how bleak the world felt, and what a quiet gift that his music was. It still resonates with me, the melancholy of that time is still there (in the world, in his music).

Bruce Stingbean (Karl Malone), Monday, 20 June 2022 15:34 (one week ago) link


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