Yello Magic Orchestra’s BGM: Background Music?

18th March 2016

Title: BGM

Label: Music on Vinyl

BGM? Background Music…but don’t think that you are about to play easy going library music here. This album, originally released in 1981, is full of spacious, brisk, clipped analogue synth beats with plenty of minor chords to add a sense of loss and melancholia to the atmosphere of this LP.

I was warned off the first side of this album by a so-called ‘music expert’ but, really, I don’t know what all the fuss was about because it’s tonally and structurally fascinating. Even the supposedly execrable Rap Phenomena which saw YMO tackle the then budding rap genre is more of a Kraftwerk-esque peep at another culture and another style of living. It’s clipped and lively and, while not a masterpiece, is not bad at all.

The second side does up the YMO game, though. Cue by Hosono and Takahashi is a ballad that reminds you a little of Roxy Music and Bowie combined with innovative drum styles.

On an audiophile level, the record, like all of MOV’s productions, has been pressed very quietly which provides an ideal silent backdrop that allows a host of detail to spring forth. There is zero compression on the cut that also allows you to increase the gain and squeeze as much information from the LP as possible. Clarity is excellent as is transparency.

On the instrumental track U-T, the nervous, Kraftwerk-on-speed, thumping beat patterns are powerful and impressive in their punch and impact, while the calming synth line is smooth in the midrange. The synths on this track (and in general) offer a warming analogue presentation that rounds off any possible harsh edge, encouraging a rolling, proactive and surging arrangement.

Arriving as a numbered edition on transparent vinyl compete with an insert, this is a varied album that explores many areas of electronica and fractured rhythms and never fails to impress in terms of experimentation and daring.

Look out for the recently released 1980 album, Public Pressure and 1981’s Technodelic on the same label.