YOKOKIMTHURSTON, ‘YOKOKIMTHURSTON’ – Album Review
Oh, dear. This isn't what was supposed to happen.
Yoko Ono, the avant-garde's often unfairly maligned, perpetually controversial ambassador to pop culture, wasn't supposed to make this. Not when she looked like she was finding her footing again, against all odds, in the 21st century.
This album is, after all, a match made in abrasive-noise Valhalla. Sonic Youth fans will recognize Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon's exercises in the conceptual realms from their Sonic Youth Recordings (SYR, colloquially) series -- especially 'SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century,' which saw the band reinterpret compositions by greats like Pauline Oliveros, George Maciunas, John Cage and Ono herself. (That album, it should be noted, was the gateway to the avant-garde for many a future muso.)
And no adventurous listener should let Ono's high points slip past their ears: 1973's 'Approximately Infinite Universe' and 1891's 'Season of Glass' are essential counter-canon, as pretentious as that sounds. But this album finds John Lennon still rattling his post-corporeal chains over the ceremonies, Moore and Gordon trying not to fight in front of their kids and Ono wee-wee-weeing all the way home like a sexually over-lathered piglet.
It's not that it's an unpleasant listen -- which it most assuredly is. It's that it's an uninteresting listen, one that floats by on infamy, not ideas. The best thing going for it is the backstory: Divorced Power Couple Makes Album With World's Most Famous Widow! The actual music is just ancillary amplification.
'YOKOKIMTHURSTON' drags and drags and drags and drags and never changes and never does anything. And then it drags some more, and Moore shakes his guitar and scratches at it, and then it just keeps on going nowhere and drags and drags and drags some more, as stupidly and thoughtlessly as the day is long.
This is an album that will literally put you in a bad mood. It's indulgent, aimless, unnecessary, annoying, distracted, offensively misguided and worst of all -- the absolute worst sin one can make in the avant-garde -- it's outright predictable. It's the sound of three noise renegades embarrassing themselves by acting like dilettantes and making like eager undergrad neckbeards who look for holes in conversation to namedrop Iannis Xenakis.
If you're in the mood for this kind of thing done well, go pick up whatever album Jandek released this week, and know that somewhere, Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman are tsk-tsking at this trio.
Truly, truly awful music. It's unjustifiably bad. Indefensibly bad. Maybe the worst album that's ever resulted from great musicians collaborating. (And you thought 'Lulu' was bad ...)
In this case, it's one of the most memorable albums of the year.