Yellow Magic Orchestra  

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"One of the earliest uses of the Roland TR-808 for a live performance was by Yellow Magic Orchestra in December 1980 in the song "Thousand Knives," composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto in 1978. The hand-clap sound was later publicized by YMO's innovative album BGM, released March 1981 in Japan, used again on "Thousand Knives," as well as in another of Sakamoto's songs, "Music Plans."" --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) is a Japanese electronic music band formed in Tokyo in 1978 by Haruomi Hosono (bass, keyboards, vocals), Yukihiro Takahashi (drums, lead vocals) and Ryuichi Sakamoto (keyboards, vocals). The group is considered influential and innovative in the field of popular electronic music. They were pioneers in their use of synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, computers, and digital recording technology in popular music, while exploring subversive sociopolitical themes throughout their career. They are credited with playing a key role in the development of several electronic genres, including synthpop, J-pop, electro, and techno.

YMO was initially conceived by Hosono as a one-off exploration of computerized exotica and parody of Western conceptions of the orient. The three members were veterans of the music industry before coming together as YMO, and were inspired by eclectic sources, including the electronic music of Isao Tomita and Kraftwerk, Japanese traditional music, arcade games, funk music, and the disco productions of Giorgio Moroder. They released the surprise global hit "Computer Game" in 1978, reaching the UK Top 20 and selling 400,000 copies in the US. For their early recordings and performances, the band was often accompanied by programmer Hideki Matsutake. The group would release several albums before pausing their activity in 1984. They have briefly reunited several times in subsequent decades.


Studio albums

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