Yellow Magic Orchestra

Profile:
Japanese electropop band, formed in 1978.

The principal members are Haruomi Hosono (bass), Yukihiro Takahashi (drums) and Ryuichi Sakamoto (keyboards).

The band was originally conceived as a one-off studio project by Hosono, the other two members being recruited session musicians - the idea was to produce an album fusing orientalist exotica (cf their cover version of Martin Denny's Firecracker) with modern electronics. However the first album (with its cutting-edge production) was very popular, and the studio project grew into a fully fledged touring band and career for its three members.

Making abundant use of new synthesizers, samplers, digital and computer recording technology as it became available, their popularity and influence extended beyond Japan. Generally the band are highly regarded as pioneers of electronic music, and continue to be remixed and sampled by modern artists.

The band had stopped working together by 1984 (deliberately using a Japanese term meaning "spreading out" or "branching out" rather than saying they were "splitting up"); the three members returning to their solo careers but continuing to collaborate. They released a one-off reunion album, Technodon, in 1993.

The early 2000s saw Hosono & Takahashi reunited in a project called Sketch Show. On a number of occasions Ryuichi Sakamoto has joined in on Sketch Show performances and recording sessions. He later proposed they rename the unit "Human Audio Sponge" when he participates, although outside Japan they also used "Yellow Magic Orchestra" until ownership issues with former label Alfa were resolved, so subsequent live releases use the original band name.

Oricon chart statistics -
Singles:
Technopolis : 9 in Oricon chart, 293,000 copies sold
Rydeen: 15 in Oricon chart, 225,000 copies sold
Tighten Up: 43 in Oricon chart, 38,000 copies sold
Kimi Ni Mune Kyun: 2 in Oricon chart, 347,000 copies sold
Kageki Na Shukujo: 15 in Oricon chart, 79,000 copies sold
Ishin Denshin: 23 on Oricon chart, 57,000 copies sold

Albums:
Yellow Magic Orchestra (US Mix): 20 on Oricon chart, 250,000 copies sold
Solid State Survivor: 1 on Oricon chart, 1,021,000 copies sold
Public Pressure: 1 on Oricon chart, 393,000 copies sold
Multiplies (Mini LP): 1 on Oricon chart, 412,000 copies sold
Multiplies (US version): 7 on Oricon chart, 186,000 copies sold
BGM: 2 on Oricon chart, 275,000 copies sold
Technodelic: 4 on Oricon chart, 118,000 copies sold
Naughty Boys: 1 on Oricon chart, 243,000 copies sold
Naughty Boys Instrumental: 18 on Oricon chart, 31,000 copies sold
Service: 5 on Oricon chart, 135,000 copies sold
After Service: 2 on Oricon chart, 123,000 copies sold
(Source - booklet of the compilation "We Love YMO", 1998)
Sites:
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Albums

ALC-1511 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Yellow Magic Orchestra album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Yellow Magic Orchestra (Album) Alfa ALC-1511 Japan 1978 Sell This Version
ALR-6022 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Solid State Survivor album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Solid State Survivor (Album) Alfa ALR-6022 Japan 1979 Sell This Version
RL 9-0 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Evita / Yellow Magic Orchestra album art Festival (2) / Yellow Magic Orchestra Festival (2) / Yellow Magic Orchestra - Evita / Yellow Magic Orchestra(LP, Transcription) AFRTS, United States Department Of Defense RL 9-0 US 1979 Sell This Version
AMLH 68516 Yellow Magic Orchestra - 増殖  X∞Multiplies album art Yellow Magic Orchestra 増殖 X∞Multiplies (MiniAlbum, Album, Comp) Alfa AMLH 68516 Netherlands 1980 Sell This Version
ALR-6033 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Public Pressure = 公的抑圧 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Public Pressure = 公的抑圧 (Album) Alfa ALR-6033 Japan 1980 Sell This Version
CN 3691/S Yellow Magic Orchestra - In Concert-239 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra In Concert-239(LP, Transcription) BBC Transcription Services CN 3691/S UK 1980 Sell This Version
ALR-28015 Yellow Magic Orchestra - BGM album art YMO* BGM (Album) Alfa ALR-28015 Japan 1981 Sell This Version
ALR-28030 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technodelic album art YMO* Technodelic (Album) Alfa ALR-28030 Japan 1981 Sell This Version
YLR-28013 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Service album art YMO* Service (Album) Alfa YLR-28013 Japan 1983 Sell This Version
YLC-20002 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Naughty Boys (Instrumental) = 浮気なぼくら (インスツルメンタル) album art Y.M.O.* Naughty Boys (Instrumental) = 浮気なぼくら (インスツルメンタル) (Album) Alfa YLC-20002 Japan 1983 Sell This Version
YLR-28008 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Naughty Boys album art Y.M.O.* Naughty Boys (Album) Alfa YLR-28008 Hong Kong 1983 Sell This Version
YLR-40001~2 Yellow Magic Orchestra - After Service album art Yellow Magic Orchestra After Service (Album) Alfa YLR-40001~2 Japan 1984 Sell This Version
ALCA-137/138 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Faker Holic YMO World Tour Live album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Faker Holic YMO World Tour Live (Album) Alfa ALCA-137/138 Japan 1991 Sell This Version
ALCA-421~2 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Complete Service album art YMO* Complete Service (Album) Alfa ALCA-421~2 Japan 1992 Sell This Version
TOCT-8050 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technodon Remixes I album art YMO* Technodon Remixes I (MiniAlbum) Eastworld TOCT-8050 Japan 1993 Sell This Version
TOCT-8010 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technodon album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Technodon (Album) Eastworld TOCT-8010 Japan 1993 Sell This Version
SPCD-1379 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technodon Live album art YMO* Technodon Live (Album) Eastworld SPCD-1379 Japan 1993 Sell This Version
ALCA-545 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Live At Kinokuni-Ya Hall 1978 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Live At Kinokuni-Ya Hall 1978 (Album) Alfa ALCA-545 Japan 1993 Sell This Version
ALCA-543 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Live At Budokan 1980 album art YMO* Live At Budokan 1980 (Album) Alfa ALCA-543 Japan 1993 Sell This Version
TOCT-8070 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technodon Remixes II album art YMO* Technodon Remixes II(CD, Album, Mono) Eastworld TOCT-8070 Japan 1993 Sell This Version
ALCA-5055 Yellow Magic Orchestra - YMO - Winter - Live - 1981 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra YMO - Winter - Live - 1981(CD, Album) Alfa ALCA-5055 Japan 1995 Sell This Version
ALCA 5065-6 Yellow Magic Orchestra - World Tour 1980 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra World Tour 1980 (Album) Alfa ALCA 5065-6 Japan 1996 Sell This Version
ALCA-5150 Yellow Magic Orchestra - Live At Greek Theater 1979 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra Live At Greek Theater 1979(CD, Album) Alfa ALCA-5150 Japan 1997 Sell This Version
ALCA-5250 Yellow Magic Orchestra - 増長 X∞Presumptuous album art YMO* & Bakusho-Mondai + Hidekazu Nagai YMO* & Bakusho-Mondai + Hidekazu Nagai - 増長 X∞Presumptuous(CD, Album) Alfa ALCA-5250 Japan 1998 Sell This Version
VIJL-60045~46 Yellow Magic Orchestra - YMO Remixes Technopolis 2000-01 album art Yellow Magic Orchestra YMO Remixes Technopolis 2000-01 (Comp) Victor VIJL-60045~46 Japan 1999 Sell This Version

Reviews Show All 16 Reviews

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Zaroff

Zaroff

September 8, 2020
My favorite band of all time. Either collectively or individually. There's just nothing else like it, anywhere.
tony879

tony879

May 22, 2020
Remixes of these classic tracks, is just a no no. Leave them be!
BeatlELO10538

BeatlELO10538

April 16, 2020
It bugs me to this day that this band never really caught on in the USA. Given the market for techno music and foreign acts in the country nowadays, YMO could have become something big. Sadly... It seems they came out a bit too early to gain a loyal fan base stateside.

We got three albums, a handful of singles, and that was it - everything else was exclusive to Japan and Europe. That just hurts.

All that aside, YMO is still one of the best names in electronic music.
tedmills

tedmills

November 14, 2018
Kraftwerk is the German YMO!

I cannot over emphasize how all-encompassing this band is in Japanese pop history, three amazing musicians from different generations, all with different talents, and some--like Hosono--coming from already established discographies. They have given me so much listening pleasure over the years that I'm jealous of anyone just now getting into their music.
TropicalDandy

TropicalDandy

August 31, 2018
My opinion: Not the Japanese Kraftwerk. Their use of melodic layering and complex musical compositions were antithetical to the cold and minimal nature of most of Kraftwerk's oeuvre. Many of their songs have a sense of levity about them, displaying either a joy in the creative process of musical experimentation, or just plain silliness (as in their work with Snakeman Show.) Of course, I find it insultingly reductive to say that such a prolific genre-bending musical group is nothing more than a 'version' of another group. But to compare YMO to Kraftwerk is to ignore the entire concept of musical composition and complexity in order to focus on a singular surface-level observation: they both use synthesizers.
yalajules

yalajules

October 23, 2017
So so inventive so they were qualified as Japanese Kraftwerk.
FINrock

FINrock

April 19, 2015
Japanese craftwerk, very nice!

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