It’s hard to find words to describe the amount of respect I have for Yoko Ono. She’s not only one of my all-time heroes, but one of the greatest and most influential people in the world today. She’s seventy-nine years old, but you would never guess her age if you happen to be standing in front of her. She really looks much younger. I’m not only impressed by her endurance and that she’s been doing her thing for over half a century now—even longer than Bob Dylan. No, first and foremost I am in awe of her mental strength, particularly in regards to how many people have expressed their hate for her over the years. For a glimpse of that, just check out any video related to her on YouTube. The stupid never hesitate to spread their hatred.
Aside from all of the xenophobia, art phobia and sexism, haters the world over are still claiming she’s responsible for the breakup of The Beatles. I mean, I doubt it’s true, but even if this were the case, how great would that be! She liberated these four inhibited Liverpudlians and guess what happened? Ringo had a number one hit! George became a floating spiritual character! Paul started to write beautiful love songs! And of course, John became the greatest of them all. I am not so very convinced of Ono’s art output over the last decade or so, but I assume her focus had shifted, because musically she always delivered. Her last album Between My Head and the Sky was a genius precision landing after her previous flights of fancy— with a little help from Japanese producer/musician Cornelius.
Now she’s recorded an album with Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth as if it was the most natural thing in the world for a grown-up to do. Well, some people might claim it’s an obvious choice: a score full of empty rooms, echoes of space, very delicate guitar work, touching screams and vocals, noisy, free-wheeling soundscapes, spoken word poetry—all with a very New York art school feel.
But the album also sounds very European, too, with its moments and ideas of improvisation beyond free jazz. In other words, with YOKOKIMTHURSTON, you get exactly what you’d expect. Of course you might argue that there’s something old-fashioned about that in light of the earliest Sonic Youth tapes from the eighties and Ono’s Fluxus performances from the mid- 1960’s, not to mention her primal scream recordings from the early seventies. But the funny thing is that at least Ono’s classic work is still everybody’s bogeyman—from the common to the bourgeois listen- er. Ironic then that her most basic message on YOKOKIMTHURSTON remains: War is over! (If you want it). And unfortunately for most, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. ~
Published November 16, 2012. Words by Andreas Reise.