Review: Solid State Survivor by Yellow Magic Orchestra (1979)

Second only to Dogs Playing Poker.
“ENJOYING HU-MAN LEISURE ACTIVITIES.”

Solid State Survivor comes straight from the space discotheques we’ll all be frequenting in the future.

Not long now…

On the surface it would be very easy to compare Yellow Magic Orchestra to Kraftwerk, seeing as they’re both electronic pop groups from the 1970s. However, the guys in YMO (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, Yukihirio Takahashi) seem to owe a lot more to the likes of The Beatles than anybody else – even covering Day Tripper on this album. The rest is undoubtedly down to the influence of poet and scientician Chris Mosdell, who wrote most of the English lyrics.

Do I know what any of the songs are about? Nope.

Does that matter? Not at all, because it sounds cool.

What the fuck's happening here?
What the fuck’s happening here?

Technopolis opens the album with some moody cyberpunk Blade Runner vibes. It’s upbeat but unsettling at the same time, like being on the run from the Boogie Patrol. I think it’s in English but it’s all processed through a vocoder so I suppose we’ll never know. Absolute Ego Dance brings a quick end to your escape with the bouncy wail of the Boogie Patrol’s sirens as they catch up to you and haul your sorry behind to Robo-Jail.

Rydeen starts off with the clip-clop of a SynthHorse’s Cyber Hooves. Your gang has come to bust you out of Robo-Jail and a thrilling shoot-out ensues, with plenty of chasing! How exciting! This song is the Bullitt car chase of Solid State Survivor. The rest is brilliant, at times better, but why would you talk about anything else?

In Castalia you return to your gang’s hideout only for a bomb to go off just as you near the building. Somebody’s out to get you, and it looks like they’d kill everybody in the world until they got to you. You hide out in a MechaCave to try and figure things out a bit. On your way there you are stopped by a mysterious masked stranger, you see that Behind the Mask it’s your long-lost pal, Jenny, who had joined the rivalling Day Tripper gang.

Together, you infiltrate the Boogie Patrol’s HQ in the wee hours of the night, using your Insomnia to your advantage. You bring down the main generator just as their Elimination Squad is closing in, deactivating your attackers and destroying the Boogie Patrol for good.

Truly, you are a Solid State Survivor. You settle down with Jenny, have a few kids, the credits roll…

You saved the world tonight.

Solid State Survivor track list:

  1. Technopolis
  2. Absolute Ego Dance
  3. Rydeen
  4. Castalia
  5. Behind the Mask
  6. Day Tripper
  7. Insomnia
  8. Solid State Survivor
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