Remember the late 70s? If you do, remember YMO, the abbreviated name for the Yellow Magic Orchestra, a Japanese band that built a lot of their music on the themes of early video games? Their enigmatic front man, Ryuichi Sakamoto (@ryuichisakamoto), who composed dozens of film scores, will stay in my mind foremost as the nemesis of David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.
Sakamoto had been touring on his own, but it has been a while that he toured the U.S. as part of YMO. Last Sunday, they played the Hollywood Bowl. With YMO, other Japanese artists performed as well, most notably Cibo Matto (watch here Know Your Chicken and Sci-Fi Wasabi), kind of Pizzicato 5 meets Blondie, and the inimitable Yoko Ono.
Reed Johnson commented on Ono-san’s performance like this:
…Yoko Ono, the high priestess of East-West art-pop, helped close the show by mincing about while invoking world peace and emitting electronic shrieks that suggested Shamu the Killer Whale channeling John Cage.
Plus ça change…
If you want to listen/watch Cibo Matto, use the link above. And if the Yoko Ono quote hasn’t put you off, here a glimpse of her performance. Below a 1979 video of YMO (I am mentioning the year to put it in perspective).