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Album Review

Continuing on its cockeyed way through genre exercise and radical reinterpretation, Señor Coconut, having redone one set of electronic legends in Kraftwerk years back, takes another turn with the archly titled Yellow Fever For indeed, it's the Yellow Magic Orchestra that gets the treatment this time out, but unlike the earlier effort, this is done not only with the individual participation of all three YMO veterans, but with any number of musical guests, from Towa Tei to Mouse on Mars. The sheer number of mix-and-match efforts throughout, highlighted by a number of shorter pieces that serve as bridges between the full-on covers, could almost be a hip-hop album in an alternate universe, but the basic consistency at the heart of the album is clear — Uwe Schmidt in his Señor Coconut guise, with vocalist Argenis Brito appearing throughout, transmogrifying YMO songs into classic Latin pop numbers. Anyone well familiar with the memorable hooks of songs like "Rydeen" and "Behind the Mask" will love the end results; anyone coming to it all completely as-is for the first time could readily enjoy it as such. The guest appearances make the album even more of a random surprise, as when Akufen applies his patented hyper-cut-up procedure to "Coco Agogo," or when Tei and Nouvelle Vague's Marina kick up their heels on a swinging multilingual '30s jazz original, "Mambo Numerique" — which of course is punctuated by a electronically growling vocal break. Perhaps the most appropriate reworking is "Limbo," which YMO member Yukihiro Takahashi smoothly performs as well as he did the first time around while the arrangements almost explode around him. Haruomi Hosono's lead on "The Madmen" is no less deft and playful, while Ryuichi Sakamoto's turn on "Yellow Magic (Tong Poo)," if less immediately apparent, completes the trifecta nicely.

Yellow Fever!, Señor Coconut and His Orchestra
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