Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) was a Japanese electro/art-pop trio that released six proper albums and a live disc between 1978 and 1983 on Alfa. They were formed by veteran multi-instrumentalist Haruomi Hosono (ex-Apryl Fool, Happy End) and featured drummer Yukihiro Takahashi (ex-Sadistic Mika Band). During YMO’s initial run, singer and keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto launched a prolific and internationally successful solo career.
Members: 細野晴臣 [Haruomi Hosono] (bass, keyboards, electronics, vocals), Ryuichi Sakamoto (keyboards, electronics, percussion, vocals), 高橋幸宏 [Yukihiro Takahashi] (drums, electronics, percussion, vocals)
Yellow Magic Orchestra was formed in 1978 by veteran musician Haruomi Hosono, who started nine years earlier as the bassist of psych-rockers Apryl Fool. During the early 1970s, he played multiple instruments on three albums with folk-rockers Happy End. Mid-decade, he cut two albums with pop-funksters Tin Pan Alley. He launched his solo career with the 1973 release Hosono House. Concurrently, he played on albums by Inoue Yousui (Ice World, 1973) and Osamu Kitajima (Benzaiten, 1974).
In late 1977, Hosono formed The Yellow Magic Band, a loose collective of studio musicians assembled for his fourth solo album Paraiso, a tropical set that appeared the following year. The band included drummer Yukihiro Takahashi and keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Takahashi had cut three albums between 1973 and 1975 as a member of art-rockers the Sadistic Mika Band. Simultaneously, he partook in the folk combo Buzz, led by his older brother Nobuyuki. As recordings took place for Paraiso, Takahashi used some of the same musicians for his debut solo album Saravah!, including Hosono and Sakamoto.
Sakamoto’s recording career dated back to 1975 with appearances on albums by Lily, Kohei Oikawa, and Kobayashi Masahiro. His first headlining album was the 1976 ALM Records release Disappointment-Hateruma, a free-improv collaborative effort with percussionist Toshi Tsuchitori. In 1977, Sakamoto and Hosono interacted on albums by Taeko Ohnuki (Sunshower), Tatsuro Yamashita (Spacy), and Chu Kosaka (Morning). That same year, Sakamoto played keyboards on four songs (all of side A) on Olive’s Step, the fifth album by jazz-rock guitarist Kazumi Watanabe.
After recordings wrapped on Paraiso and Saravah!, Sakamoto recorded his debut solo album Thousand Knives of with backing by Hosono, Takahashi, and Watanabe. Also in 1978, Hosono recorded two further solo albums: Cochin Moon (co-billed to Tadanori Yokoo with help from Sakamoto) and Pacific (co-billed to Shigeru Suzuki and Tatsuro Yamashita with appearances by Sakamoto and Takahashi).
In July 1978, Hosono enlisted Sakamoto and Takahashi for a studio-based project fusing electronic music with exotica. Intended as a one-off, it was released on Alfa that November as Yellow Magic Orchestra. The album’s success made YMO an ongoing concern.
Yellow Magic Orchestra
1. “Computer Game ‘Theme from The Circus’” Yellow Magic Orchestra (1:48)
2. “Firecracker” Yellow Magic Orchestra, Martin Denny (4:50)
3. “Simoon” Chris Mosdell Haruomi Hosono (6:27)
4. “Cosmic Surfin’” Hosono (4:51)
5. “Computer Game ‘Theme from The Invader’” YMO (0:43)
1. “Tong Poo” Ryuichi Sakamoto (6:15)
2. “La femme chinoise” Mosdell Yukihiro Takahashi (5:52)
3. “Bridge over Troubled Music” YMO (1:17)
4. “Mad Pierrot” uncredited Hosono (4:20)
5. “Acrobat” Hosono (1:12)
Solid State Survivor
Yellow Magic Orchestra released the 10″ mini-album X∞Multiplies on June 5, 1980, on Alfa.
“Behind the Mask (US & UK only)”
Released: August 1980
“Cue” / “U•T”
Released: April 21, 1981
“Mass” / “Camouflage”
Released: September 5, 1981
Yellow Magic Orchestra released their sixth studio album, Naughty Boys, on May 24, 1983, on Alfa.
In July 1983, Alfa issued Naughty Boys Instrumental, a collection of remixed tracks from the album proper.
“You’ve Got to Help Yourself”
Released: September 28, 1983
“Every Time I Look Around (I Hear the Madmen Call)”
Released: 1984 (EU only)
- Paraiso (1978 • Harry Hosono and The Yellow Magic Band)
- Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978)
- Solid State Survivor (1979)
- Public Pressure (live, 1980)
- X∞Multiplies (10″, 1980)
- BGM (1981 • YMO)
- Technodelic (1981 • YMO)
- Naughty Boys (1983 • Y.M.O.)
- Naughty Boys Instrumental (1983 • Y.M.O.)
- Service (1983 • YMO)
- Discogs: Yellow Magic Orchestra
- Directory of Asian Albums (page 5)
- 45worlds: Yellow Magic Orchestra
- 45cat: Yellow Magic Orchestra
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