Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore
Sep 24, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
Two left-thinking pairs of musicians don't always make a right. Let's take the case of Yoko Ono and Sonic Youth mainstays Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, who surprised all by announcing a collaborative album. Sure, there is plenty of common ground here, from New York states of mind to avant garde artistic explorations to indie rock progeny (Sean Lennon is one-half of The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger; Coco Hayley Gordon Moore is the vocalist of Big Nils) but in this case we're pretty sure opposites would have made a more attractive album.
YOKOKIMTHURSTON is an improvisational cluster that has no beginning and no end, and no plot to keep listeners on the track to redemption. Most of the six-song saga pairs Ono's writhing, witchy vocals with Moore and Gordon's door-creaking/sink-scraping guitar lines. While Sonic Youth fans will appreciate the noise temperament, Ono is just downright painful to listen to on tracks such as the opening number "I Missed You, Listening Part 1." If it is true that her vocal style is founded on a childhood memory of hearing a woman giving birth, then this album is the exorcism of the evil twin.
Certain tracks dial down the output by focusing on spoken word styles. Second number "Running the Risk" begins with a two-minute exchange, Ono going on and on about big fish and the color yellow, Gordon and Thurston word volleying about search engines and great audience returns. There's a spookiness to it like PJ Harvey's "Down by the Water," less the magnetism to provide a real line and sinker. Experimentation in music should be applauded, especially in today's monochromatic industry; but accessibility should be also. While it's great to see Gordon and Moore still professionally recording together, especially pending rumors of a Sonic Youth split, we hope they learn to play nicer for the fans' sakes.
Author rating: 2/10
Average reader rating: 9/10