Yellow Magic Orchestra are one of those bands that many people haven’t heard of, but would recognize the sound they helped create. YMO, along with Kraftwerk and Devo, were pioneers in bringing electronic sounds to popular music in the late 1970’s.
While Kraftwerk and Devo may be better known, it was YMO who experimented heavily with computers and electronic instruments, such as vocoders, and was the first to release an entire album that featured mostly samples and loops. Whatever your opinion is on electronic instruments, sampling and its use in popular music, YMO’s influence is undeniable in what is heard in rock, pop, hip hop and the dance music movements of today.
Sunday night saw Yellow Magic Orchestra back in the U.S. for the first time in more than three decades. Their Los Angeles show coincided with release of YMO, their new compilation album which came out earlier this month. YMO features songs from the band’s catalogue, remastered and hand picked by the band members themselves. Last night’s set at the Hollywood Bowl featured some of their better known songs reworked and played by live instruments. Guitars and brass instruments played along side synthesizers and computers brilliantly. It was a true fusion of old and new, traditional and experimental, classic and modern.
Though last night’s “Big In Japan Festival” also featured performances by a reunited Cibo Matto, a sonic heavy set by Buffalo Daughter, and even a guest spot by Yoko Ono, Yellow Magic Orchestra was truly deserving of their headline status, showing why they remain one of the most influential bands in experimental and popular music for over 30 years.