Posted on 2019-02-24, by nokia241186.
Ryuichi Sakamoto - B-2 Unit (1980
XLD | Flac(Image) + Cue + Log & MP3 CBR 320Kbps
1988 | Alfa Records 32XA-230 | ~ 182 or 88 Mb | Artwork(png) -> 16 Mb
A perfect, dark companion to Yellow Magic Orchestra's own fantastic Technodelic, B-2 Unit finds Sakamoto exploring a decidedly more experimental side of electronic music.
When listening to this now, it's important to recall how much painstaking programming went into creating this music. There were no DAW's, no Pro-Tools or Ableton, no modeling synthesizers and the only commercially available sampler was the 8-bit, insanely expensive and difficult Fairlight CMI. To sequence the synth / drum machine parts to get that 'precise' sound meant countless hours sitting at the Roland MC 8, a sequencer where every note and chord needed to be punched in manually. Having done something similar myself recently I can attest: as great as the end result is, the process is maddening.
When so much work goes into a record, you can guarantee the artist believes deeply in every track. Thusly, there are no weak tracks on B-2 Unit, only wild, expressive, experimental electronic pop music.
A huge criticism levied at electronic music, especially at the time, was that it was cold and soulless, lacking in emotional depth. Those things could definitely be true, plenty of artists certainly used this aspect to define their sound. Not so, Ryuichi Sakamoto. "Thatness and Thereness", for all it's melting electronic washes, is anchored by Sakamoto's excellent melodic chops, as pretty as any smooth jazz number.
But that's not the most on offer in B-2U. Opener "Differencia" must have shocked the shit out of the YMO faithful with it's dark aura and skewered drum machine hiccuping all over the place. "Participation Mystique" continues this after the false comfort of "Thatness and Thereness" with pounding drums, distorted drone figure and a mutilated vocal that sounds like a whispering spectre.
"Iconic Storage" posits industrial instructional film music as dark pop while "Not the 6 O'Clock News" is just straight up industrial music, as uncompromising as anything coming out of England at the time. "E-3A" pits Sakamoto's synth prowess against dub producer Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell. Bovell, no stranger to non reggae musics, having produced post-punk noise funksters The Pop Group's debut Y and The Slits Cut, approaches the track with a fine tuned sense of rhythm, weaving seemlessly in and out of the hi-q bass squirts and clicks.
"Riot in Lagos" is the closest B-2U gets to YMO's electro pop but still a bit "off", though it certainly clues the listener to the general direction that that band would take less than a year later on Technodelic.
Still sounds fresh 32 years later.
01. Differencia (02:06)
02. Thatness and Thereness (03:27)
03. Participation Mystique (06:40)
04. E-3A (04:46)
05. Iconic Storage (04:43)
06. Riot in Lagos (05:40)
07. Not the 6 O'Clock News (05:04)
08. The End of Europe (04:56)
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