Archive for the ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’ Category

Happy New Year, let us never speak of 2016 again

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

I hope you all had a merry little Christmas. I mean, 2016 even managed to make Christmas shit by killing George Michael, but I hope you tried your best. My boyfriend and I went to a special museum showcase of vintage boomboxes! That was pretty fucking dope. Expect a write-up soon!

Gary Numan
Music For Chameleons (Extended Version)
This version of Numan’s single from his 1982 album I, Assassin is approximately 50 seconds longer than the original album version. I feel that, in this case, calling it “extended” is really false advertising. There needs to be another word for it. Maybe “elongated?” No, that sounds stupid. I don’t know. I’m open to suggestions from the peanut gallery for this one.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Rydeen (Instrumental) (Remixed by YAMADA)
You’ve Got To Help Yourself (POPbanana trap’mix)
These two remixes are from the vinyl edition of the YMO Remixes Technopolis 2000-00. It’s not the best compilation, as most remixes of YMO tracks are downright awful. However, these two takes, which didn’t make it on the CD version, are light years better than nearly every other track on the album, which is odd. Of course, “Rydeen” is a hard song to fuck up, but the remix of “You’ve Got To Help Yourself” is surprisingly great considering that’s not one of YMO’s best tunes. This version has a really rad bassline and some happy fun beeps that sound like something out of a Willian Orbit track, so I can really get behind it.

Adventures From The YMO Family

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

I’m tired, I’m working six days in a row this week and I have to be up to go to work in about seven hours. So of course I decided to randomly write 800 plus words on releases by various Yellow Magic Orchestra associates.

Kenji Omura
Seiko Is Always On Time
The Defector
Maps
Kenji Omura was a longstanding associate of YMO, whose work with members from the group actually pre-dates the band itself; he’s credited as a performer on Yukihiro Takahashi’s solo debut Saravah!, which came out in 1978. Throughout the 70s and 80s he continually popped up on various YMO associate releases, including albums by Akiko Yano, Susan, Logic System (more on him in a second) and Sandii. During YMO’s biggest years he also served as the band’s touring guitarist, performing on their seminal Live At Budokan release.

He was primarily a jazz guitarist (a lot of YMO people have jazz backgrounds) and it shows a lot in his solo work, more than his work as a contributing artist. His 1983 album Gaijin Heaven even goes as far as to have a Steely Dan cover on it, showing that while he was working in the synth-pop field, he was just as interested in rock and jazz fusion as anything else. But, me being me and my interests lying where they are, I’m going to focus on his more synth-pop focused work, specifically these three tracks from his fantastic 1981 album, Spring Is Nearly Here.

While that album is listed as Kenji Omura record, it’s more or less an unofficial YMO release. Not only does it feature all three members of YMO performing their respective instruments, they also contribute as songwriters alongside Chris Mosdell, who served as the group’s English language songwriter for some of their biggest hits, including “Behind The Mask.” The album also features contributions from YMO accomplishes Akiko Yano, Hideki Matsutake and Kazuhiko Kato.

The whole album doesn’t sound like a YMO record (that jazz influence is pretty strong throughout) but the tracks that do sound like YMO really sound like YMO. “The Defector” could have easily been on Naughty Boys, its a pop masterpiece, the kind of track that sounds like it was purposely constructed to be a Top 40 hit and is all the better for it. Unsurprisingly, it was written by Takahashi and his English songwriter, Peter Barakan, two fantastic pop craftsmen.

“Seiko Is Always On Time” is a purely electronic jam, co-written by Sakamoto and obviously channeling “The End Of Asia” with its Eastern influences morphed together with a synthesizer-heavy sound. It’s semi-ambient totally beautiful.

But YMO fans should really take note of “Maps.” If that track sounds familiar, that’s because it’s actually a YMO tune, appearing on both the Budokan and World Tour albums. Those records were recorded in 1980, a full year before this record was released, but close enough for it to be difficult to say if the song was as YMO song first that was later handed off to Omura, or if it was intended for Omura all along. Either way, it’s a great track, and stands up equally with any other classic tune by the group.

Hideki Matsutake & K.I. Capsule
The James Bond Theme
Goldfinger
Hideki Matsutake served as YMO’s programmer, and also worked with electronic music pioneer Isao Tomita in the mid-70s. In the early-80s he went solo under the moniker Logic System, releasing a pair of beautiful albums in the early 80s as well as several…less good albums throughout the remainder of the century (one has a rap track, it’s bad).

For me though, his crowning achievement away from YMO is Digital Moon, a 1979 album composed entirely of James Bond theme covers. I’m not going to say that it’s the greatest album of all time, but it might be the greatest album of all time. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Goldfinger” sung through a vocoder. The only way it could’ve been better is if they had gotten Shirley Bassey herself to do it. This is dope shit. If you like dope shit you’ll like this.

Jun Togawa
Suki Suki Daisuki
Late Blooming Girls
An artist so unique that she’s nearly impossible to describe. I think the best I could come up with was “a cross between Madonna, Patti Smith and Klaus Nomi,” thanks to her pop presence combined with her predisposition for violent screaming fits and the occasional foray into operatic bellowing.

Between her solo discography, collaborative efforts and side-projects, she’s released countless records, which makes diving into her discography rather daunting, not to mention incredibly expensive. Any greatest hits compilation is a good jumping off point though, as it will probably feature one of, if not both of these, tremendous songs.

Both of these songs are highlights even if you can’t understand the vocals, thanks to Jun’s amazing vocal range. But if you do know what she’s singing about, they’re even stronger. Thankfully, for “Suki Suki Daisuki” you can find the translated lyrics on this fan-subbed video. As for “Late Blooming Girls,” I don’t have an exact translation with me, but the song is about a woman who’s scared to lose her virginity because she heard it might hurt, only to find the experience quite pleasurable once it happens. You can probably point out the point in the song where that unfolds solely based on how she changes her singing voice.

Jun Togawa is still recording today, and recently released a collaborative noise rock album that includes a new version of “Suki Suki Daisuki.” It’s something else.

I AM PREDICTING A HEADACHE

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

SPOILER I’M DRUNK

Let’s talk about things that suck.

These are some of the things that I think suck the most

  • Imagine Dragons
  • “Men’s Rights” Advocates
  • Whatever the fuck Amanda Bynes is doing to herself
  • APRIL
  • The random painful red bump on my face that showed up out of nowhere yesterday
  • Mean parents
  • Assholes
  • APRIL
  • Geo-political situations keeping you from people you love
  • People who don’t like kittens
  • The inability to prove yourself as a writer
  • Hardees’
  • APRIL
  • Dropping food in the dark
  • Scott Miller dying
  • No one caring about shit you care about
  • Ohio
  • APRIL
  • The Inevitable Heat Death Of The Universe
  • Throwing your back out
  • The fact that Eve 6 still exists and making music
  • Chris Brown
  • The fact that no one has murdered Chris Brown
  • Seriously, fuck Chris Brown
  • Amanda Palmer
  • The death of “longform” writing

So much shit that sucks! It’s everywhere. The world sucks all around you! How do you combat it?

You combat it by focusing on shit that doesn’t suck! What doesn’t suck?

  • Whiskey
  • People who love you
  • Pizza
  • Whiskey
  • Records
  • Movies about ninjas
  • That Crosby Stills and Nash song with all the doots
  • Playing “This Corrosion” by Sisters Of Mercy alone in your room and rocking out like a monkey on mescaline
  • Pictures of kittens in shoes
  • Movies about breakdancing
  • Adorable nephews
  • Monkeys
  • Hypothetical movies about breakdancing ninjas. Okay, real talk for a second. How come no one has made a movie about a breakdancing ninja I would watch the shit out of that shit.
  • Awesome people who pick fights with misogynists, sexists and racists because its fun to fuck with them
  • Walter Hill movies from 1977 to 1984
  • Months that aren’t April, because fuck April
  • Whiskey

Seriously, you gotta focus on the positive and non-suckage of life (and/or drink lots) or it’s all gonna bring you down. And fuck that shit for bringing you down. You’re better than that bullshit! Be awesome! You’re awesome aren’t you? Well then fuck that shit! Go be awesome! I am so awesome. Holy shit. It’s like, woah, how awesome I am.

Yo! Here’s some awesome music to help you be awesome and crush  the evil powers of suck. Rock this shit like He-Man rocked the power of Greyskull.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Born To Run (Live)
Are you ready for some indisputable facts? Cuz you’re gonna get some.

FACT:  Frankie Goes To Hollywood is awesome.
FACT: Born to Run is awesome
DOUBLEFACT: Frankie Goes To Hollywood covering Born To Run is mega-awesome awesome.

Underworld
Underneath The Radar (12″ Remix)
More bold  facts for you. Underworld was an  awesome synthpop band before they were an awesome electronic band.  I posted this eons ago but that rip was less than awesome. I re-recorded it today. Now it has awesome.

Yukihiro Takahashi
Kid-Nap, The Dreamer
I-Kasu!
Japan is the most awesomest place on Earth and this is a fact. Yukihiro Takahashi (which I spell right despite being HAMMERED so I’m proud of myself) is in Yellow Magic Orchestra, a synthpop band from Japan. Since synthpop is awesome and Japan is mega-awesome then YMO is like, so fucking awesome that there aren’t even words.

Takahashi’s solo work, while not as awesome as YMO, is still pretty damn awesome. This is a crazy track, cuz it’s like synth-ska. Hard to explain, but it sounds like a Specials song put through a moog.

(Kid-Nap and I Kasu! are two tracks, but really one long song, so I call them one song because that’s just easier)

BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE II
RUSH (12″ mix)
THE MOST AWESOME

I’m back! And I brought all the Japanese synth-pop with me!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Okay, so here was my plan: Put a couple posts in the pipe while I was in China, and then once I got to Japan, occasionally blog about the stuff I was getting/feature some music from any out-of-print CDs I may have bought while in the country.

The first part of my plan worked perfectly, however, once in Japan I realized I failed to take into account HOW FUCKING AWESOME TOKYO IS. Sorry, but once I got there the last thing I wanted to do was sit in my hotel room and write about what I bought that day. I wanted to go out and play in the arcades; walk around Shibuya until midnight; go to crazy Japanese clubs; drink crazy Japanese drinks; and so much more! There’s so much to do and see in that city, and the longer I was there, the less I cared about getting back to my hotel in time to write a really good blog post. I just wanted to explore that city until my feet couldn’t take anymore, sleep, wake up, and repeat the whole process. So sorry if the blog kind of fell into a wasteland for a couple of weeks, but I was honestly having too much fun to really care.

But I’m back now! And holy shit do I have a lot to talk about! I plan on writing a couple of massive posts about my trip in the coming weeks/month, hopefully for my oft-delayed new site, but until then, I’m just going to start posting music that I picked up on the trip. I bought a ton of Western stuff, but expect to see a good portion of Japanese music as well, starting with tonight.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Y.M.O. Mega-Mix
Firecracker (Remix)
Behind The Mask (Remix)
I wish I knew the reason why most of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s discography remains painfully hard to get in the states. Only one of their albums is available digitally on Amazon, and only a select few are available to buy via import. Is it a right’s issue? Or is Sony (I think that’s who own this stuff) just too stupid to give the stuff a proper release. I get why they haven’t bothered to put the CDs out here, but it would cost them next to nothing to get this stuff on digital download stores. What gives?

I didn’t want to wait to find out, so when I was in Japan I pretty much picked up a complete YMO discography across both CD and LP, and over the next few months I’m going to try and figure out what to post and what not to. Sure, nearly all of their albums aren’t available in the states, but I still think that most of them are worth tracking down and picking up, even at import prices. Maybe I’ll do some kind of “Greatest Hits” where I choose my favorite YMO tracks across the records I picked up. I think that’s the best and most ethical way to do things.

Tonight though I’m putting up a complete CD single, because even if the YMO albums proper ever make their way to American shores, I really doubt these remixes will. These are from a 1990 CD single simply called Y.M.O MEGA MIX that contains the self-titled medley track, and two additional YMO remixes.  The mega-mix is a massive 12 minute beast, containing snippets from seven different YMO tracks. None of them are massively re-worked, but it’s a great brief journey through some of YMO’s better tracks, including the excellent “Rydeen” and the super-catchy “Computer Game.”

I personally prefer the two additional remixes more than the mega-mix, especially the mix of “Behind The Mask” that extends the song by nearly two minutes and really lets the track’s excellent melody come to life.

It’s good to be back! And expect plenty of amazing stuff over the next few months! I bought so many records in Japan…

I’m more like an A380

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

When I proclaimed that “The Time (Dirty Bit)” was the worst song of the millennium behind “My Humps” I had not yet heard “Like A G6” by The Far East Movement. So she wants to be like a private jet that drinks purple drank? Yikes. Sometimes I just wanna give up on pop culture and move to Yemen or something.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Limbo
S.E.T. 1
The Madmen
S.E.T. 2
Chinese Whispers
S.E.T. 3
You’ve Got To Help Yourself
S.E.T. + YMO
Shadows on the Ground
S.E.T. 4
See-Through
S.E.T. 5
Perspective
S.E.T. 6
Just like I promised, here’s some more from Ryuichi Sakamoto! All these tracks are from Service, which is the only Japanese Yellow Magic Orchestra album I own. Not surprisingly, it’s also the weirdest. While the Americanized versions of their albums are just all music, most of their Japanese albums also included comedy bits by the Super Eccentric Theater (or S.E.T.). YMO performed most of their songs in English, the bits by S.E.T. are strictly in Japanese. So, unless you speak Japanese, they’re pretty much pointless to listen to. As far as the actual music goes…well, it’s okay. Its a very good 80s synthpop album, but their earlier albums are much better and far more experimental. This was the last YMO album proper, and the group didn’t record together again until a decade later.

This post is Yellow. And not in a Racist Way.

Friday, October 1st, 2010

It’s funny, now that I got a good turntable, I can finally go through the 8 billion records I’ve been wanting to record for the past six months. Good news for all you guys. That means a lot more posts. I guess it’s good news for me too, but it’s also more work, so I think it kind of evens out.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Tighten Up (Long Version)
I love me some YMO, but this track is pretty annoying. The exaggerated fake Japanese voice is what really gets me. Although “Everybody’s doing it! Even David Bowie’s doing it!” always makes me laugh. This is from a 12” single.

Hardfloor vs. Yello
Vicious Games (Hardfloor Remix)
Vicious Games (Remixed by Boris Blank & Olaf Wollschlager)
Vicious Games (Vorsprung Durch Technik Remix)

This is a remix of a Belgium Swiss dance track by a German acid house duo, making it the most European shit ever. I have a problem with Yello. The problem is that whenever I buy any of their singles I listen to them once and then listen to my remixes of “Oh Yeah” ad nasuem until I have dreams that Ferris Bueller is going to take me on a magical Chicagoland adventure where one of my best friends eventually tries to kill himself but it all somehow works out in the end. Oh, and Jennifer Grey shows up, but she has her old nose still so I know who the hell she is. Yeah, anyways, this is NOT that song, it’s a different song that was also on Stella. Good track, good remixes, especially the first one. These have a few scratches on them, but nothing severe.

‘Yellow Magic’ Just Sounds Gross Though

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Yup. It’s music.

Yellow Magic Orchestra – X∞Multiplies
Nice Age
Behind The Mask
Rydeen
Day Tripper
Technopolis
Multiples
Citizens Of Science
Solid State Survivor

Talk about a band that’s criminally underheard (in America anyways). Yellow Magic Orchestra is one of the synth-pop bands. As far as I’m concerned they’re one of the first bands to perfect the electronic-pop sound, nearly beating Kraftwerk to the punch. So why haven’t you heard of them? Well, most likely it’s because they’re from Japan, and us American assholes just don’t seem to dig on Asian pop musicians, no matter how amazing they are. NONE of YMO’s discography is currently in print in America, although the import price for their first two albums aren’t that bad at Amazon at the moment. In the age of MP3s and digital music stores this is really inexcusable. Hey, whoever owns the rights to YMO’s music, if you make it available to purchase I’ll buy it. You’re making it hard for me to give you money.

The history to this album is a bit confusing but also appropriate, considering that there are multiple versions of it. The Japanese version came first, and that featured a collection of new tracks as well as some sketch comedy bits. The American and European versions cut out all the comedy bits and instead treated the album as a compilation, taking the best bits from the band’s first two albums and throwing them in with the tracks that were already there. The tracks listed here tonight are from my copy, which is the American version.

And that version of “Day Tripper” is something else.