YMO – BGM (Music On Vinyl, February 2016)

Finally repressed and reassessed in all its glory, this album has the magical ability to turn London’s grey skies into electric blue, glossy emerald and shiny patent yellow! One of the brightest stars of the Japenese synth tradition, BGM is perhaps the oddest and most delightful of the Hosono-Sakamoto-Takahashi trio’s bunch of LPs, and for me personally, the best. As a whole its differing parts inexplicably yet seamlessly click together; contemplative romantic synths and monumental martial compositions meet weird screwball funk while Morricone-in-Brazilia whistles in the wind. Most strikingly though, this is a record the bends your aesthetic sensibilities: it seduces you and persuades you into sonic worlds and kinds of imagination you maybe didn’t know you had.

The movement between the cold war pop nectar of tracks like “Ballet” and “Music Plans” and the utter strangeness of “Rap Phenomena” and “1000 knives” is thrilling in how it guides the listener from one palette to another; funk for the unconverted. More lip-smacking wonder occurs in “Camouflage”, the soundtrack for an impossible film noir, whilst “Mass” is one of the most sacred pieces of non-sacred music I have ever heard. BGM may be conceptually constructed as ‘Back Ground Music’, but that background is in fact more like an environment, like a building, like a space that’s inhabitable and potentially transforms how you live. If you’re only going to make it one Yellow Magic Orchestra record in this lifetime, make it this one.

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