New vinyl records, original UK and US pressings, Japanese pressings, what’s the difference? Well, there is a difference, but to question the difference in quality is a convoluted issue.
Some new vinyl records do sound great, a lot do not, some are pressed using the original master, others use the CD master or worse, an MP3 file.
Second hand copies of original vinyl pressings can also sound terrible, if treated poorly for 30 years. The pressing plants for vinyl records these days, of which there are only a few, are overwhelmed with work-load and staffed by ill-equipped technicians, compared to 30 years ago where we saw a stable industry with a higher level of expertise. There is risk buying both new and second hand vinyl, but this lack of quality control at modern plants does affect the sound of new vinyl records.
Img source: vinylize.it
JAPANESE VINYL PRESSINGS
Japan, have a quality control within the vinyl record industry that is unparalleled. Many audiophiles began buying premium quality Japanese pressings for the sleeve material, the vinyl itself and the OBI strip. The runs of pressings are smaller, they use higher quality materials (dead-quiet virgin vinyl), and owners take care of their collection.
Img Source: Rare Groove Records - Osaka (https://raregroove.shop-pro.jp/)
A large portion of the vinyl records we sell are coming from Japan, we find the quality and condition is higher, and our price reflects that. Be sure to identify the catalog number (CAT#) on our product pages to identify which copy we are selling.
I can't begin to do justice to such a band in this simple little blog, but if I can encourage just one of you to journey down one of the most rewarding musical rabbit holes out there, then this blog has served some purpose.
Before artists like Daft Punk, Justice, Mac Demarco and Cut Copy, lived Yellow Magic Orchestra. YMO were pioneers of electronic and synthesised pop music in the late 70’s. Originating from Japan and arguably the most significant progression in pop music since The Beatles, they notably influenced later acts such as Depeche Mode and The Orb.
Successful solo artists in their own right, the three members, Haruomi Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto set out to experiment with computerized music and explore a parody of western musical concepts.
We're dealing with some of the most creatively prolific artists to grace this planet. So where do you start? I could delve deep into the solo albums 'Paraiso' and 'Hosono House', but instead, let's focus on how eastern culture influenced some western artists you may know today.
Before we discuss the influence YMO have had on contemporary electronic artists, let's get take a look at the group in action, live in 1980. The ARP bass-lines in this performance take me back to earlier this year, watching Hot-Chip live at Golden Plains Music Festival 2020. Watch out for the chorus melody, it's pure joy.
I love this performance of Technopolis from the album Solid State Survivor. The effortlessness instrumentation and the ever emotionless cool factor of Haruomi Hosono is reminiscent of the French band Justice. Hosono's expression and cigarette hanging from his mouth reminds me of Xavier de Rosnay of Justice. Unfortunately, google has failed me in finding a cigarette photo, but if you've ever seen them live, you know what i'm talking about. The lads must be between smokes here:
It always interests me in contemporary music culture, when you discover the artists your favourite bands are inspired by. In a way, it's taking a look behind the curtain, and potentially killing the magic, however I can never help myself.
Gaspard Augé of Justice confirmed in an interview that he was listening to Yellow Magic Orchestra around the time that Justice was creating their record Audio, Video, Disco.
“It’s the Japanese group from Sakamoto. They’re kind of Japan’s answer to Kraftwerk, and the guys also do everything themselves, with lots of synths and drum machines. They also have this epic, romantic component that really appeals to us.” Source: nightlife.ca
YMO have also been cited by Mac Demarco as a major influence on the development of his sound, heard in songs such as Chamber of Reflection.
In mid 2019, Hosono visited Demarco in L.A during the filming of a documentary tracking the history and success of YMO and Hosono. The article by DazedDigital.com is a delight to read. It's not often you see a shy Mac Demarco.
"Honest to God, since I heard him, you know, I probably heard him about 10 years ago now, I've just been trying to rip him off," DeMarco said of Hosono. Source: thefader.com
The gateway of YMO into Japanese electronic music lead Demarco to contentiously borrowing the melody of electone player Shigeo Sekito. Listen below to hear the similarities. This video features the intro from Sekito followed by the track of Demarco.
Does this bother me? Not overly, yes it's almost identical, but Demarco isn't shy in professing his love for Japanese music. Let's call it an homage, and anyway, it goes both ways. Hosono mentions in the DazedDigital interview with Mac Demarco:
“My generation were all obsessed with American culture. Not just the music, but the whole hippie culture and everything surrounding it” – Haruomi Hosono
Ok, this one is not confirmed, but knowing Dan Witford of Cut Copy, and his extensive love and knowledge of music, there is clearly no doubt he has been hugely influenced by YMO. Let's take a look at 'Expected Way' from Naughty Boys (1983) and 'Out There On The Ice' from 'In Ghost Colour' (2008)
The quirky instrumentation, the experimentation with electronic instruments within the scope of pop music, and of course the vocal tone. Boy do i miss Modular records in their hay day, before they ripped off Tame Impala.
Creativity is a beautiful thing. Interpreting the past, picking up from where these bands ended, or continuing the pathway 30 years on from an album conceived in 1980. Of course, we're blessed with the help of the internet, and so, western musicians are still mining Japanese music history for all its worth. YMO forever <3
Below are YMO records we have for sale, and a selected track for each, to get you started. This is just the beginning, it's such a deep rabbit hole just waiting for you.