★★★★★ “Excellent, essential” UNCUT
★★★★★ “Fantastically cool, fearlessly weird” DAILY TELEGRAPH
★★★★ “Brilliant, absorbing, thoughtful” THE INDEPENDENT
★★★★ “Challenging, tender” OBSERVER MUSIC MONTHLY
★★★★ “The best work of her musical career”NME
★★★★ “Brawny, brainy avante-rock”THE ONION (AV CLUB)
★★★★ “Beautifully desolate, bittersweet” PITCHFORK
★★★★ “Truly vital: unsettling, touching, funny, undeniable” ROLLING STONE
★★★★ “Hell, yeah! Will coax your heart wide open” SPIN
★★★★ “Artworks-as-song with vigour” Q MAGAZINE
★★★★ “Crackling with excitement” MOJO
★★★★ “Audacious, deeply focussed, wonderfully colorful and deeply expressive” ALL MUSIC GUIDE
★★★★ “Expressively melodic voice” DUSTED MAGAZINE
YOKO ONO: BETWEEN MY HEAD AND THE SKY
Order CD, Vinyl, Downloads and other merchandise directly from source – at the Lennon-Ono family run CHIMERA MUSIC STORE, which ships worldwide.
Produced by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon
Assistant Producer: Yuka Honda
Mixed by Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Yuka Honda
Except Watching the Rain and The Sun Is Down! mixed by Cornelius, with Toyoaki Mishima and Toru Takayama
And Ask The Elephant! mixed by Scott Hollingsworth
Yoko Ono: vocals
Sean Lennon: acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards, bass, drums, percussion
Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada: guitars, bass, Tenorion, programming, percussion
Hirotaka “Shimmy” Shimizu: guitars, percussion
Yuko “mi-gu” Araki: drums, percussion
Shahzad Ismaily: guitars, bass, drums, percussion
Yuka Honda: Pro-tools editing, sampler, e. piano, organ, percussion
Michael Leonhart: trumpet, vibraphone, percussion
Erik Friedlander: cello
Daniel Carter: tenor saxophone, flute
Indigo Street: guitar
Chief Engineer: Christopher Allen
Assistant Engineer: Dave Schoenwetter
Recorded & Mixed at Sear Sound
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound
Cover and booklet design: Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl
Photographs: Greg Kadel
Just before the worldwide announcement of the economic shock, my son announced the birth of a music company called CHIMERA. Nice name. The first sound Ki, is Ki:Air, and the minute you pronounce that syllable, you feel the power of Ki.
Music world was at the lowest point then. Many music related outfits were closing down. So why a new company? We all wondered what my son thought he was doing. Is he going crazy? But when I looked closely into what he was doing, I suddenly realized that he was attempting to create a kind of revolution in the music world. It was a quiet manifesto of a young producer trying to change the system for the better. Oh, that’s where he’s going? I was shocked.
It reminded me of what I did in Chambers Street Concert Series 50 odd years ago. It also was John and me, how we went gung-ho about our ideas and went with all of them, no matter what. The blood is speaking, I thought. The son is wearing a suit. We wore beatnik black and then hippy blue. But the spirit seems to not have died. It may have gotten stronger, in fact. In those days, the music world was not so controlled corporatively and legally. So it wasn’t difficult to cut through to try to change the scene. It’s a harder game now.
I recorded and gave two new songs to Chimera to celebrate the beginning of it’s musical voyage. Then Sean said I should do my next album with Chimera. I thought, OKAY. In a real world, jumping into making an album with your son, is probably a no, no move for a mother to take. If it’s all alright, then fine. But once there is an argument, it may get out of hand. But those things hadn’t occurred to me. It seemed like a beautiful wide road was presented to me, and I would be a fool to not take it.
The sessions went more than great. We both learnt about each other in the way we haven’t ever, by learning to respect each other’s musicianship. I thought I was taking a big chance. But instead, I saw that we were creating miracles. I not only found out that my son was a brilliant music man, but he knew how to deal with musicians. Encouraging them while he got them to do what he had wanted them to do, kinda thing. Which is a normal thing all producers do. But seeing your son do it was like seeing the NY City for the first time. Even with me, he was his professional self- saying good morning and rushing to me to hug me when I arrive at the studio. When did I see him do that, except when he was five, maybe, I thought.
We communicated on the most intricate level of musical exchange. It was intense – night and day. And never a bad word passed between us.
It relaxed me, too, to be part of Chimera. Because, unlike the scenes I was use to travelling, the group of Chimera musicians are all songwriters of the future. And it’s nice to know that I am one, too. Well, I am, baby. Don’t have any doubts about that one!
It’s also an honour bestowed on you by your son that he wanted to do yours first. Well, if you think that’s saying a bit much…give me two names of a son and a mother doing something like this…And we are speaking of a very difficult mother and son, each with own firm musical ideas. I think Sean had courage in thinking he wanted to do this.
The fact that he knew every song I wrote and remembered the intros, was a surprised to me, since John and I made a big effort in not letting our son be burdened with the memory of our music. So he did listen… without telling us… These are things I wish I could report to John. He would have loved it.
One night, I was lying down on the sofa in the studio, trying to catch a catnap. I suddenly noticed that somebody quietly covered me with a khaki army surplus coat. That was exactly what John did when we were going through a long recording session one night. The coat was that coat, except that this one was a bit new and a bit hard on my skin. I looked up, and it was Sean who was doing exactly what John did. It was really a weird moment for me. For me to say John was probably there, is so predictable. But I really wondered.
Sean is still acting like most people of his generation. When he visits his mom, he sits in his favorite sofa and start communicating with somebody on the other end of his blackberry. So I feel very lucky that I saw the other side of him. The one who can say good morning, and hug his mom, when he’s on his job. Thank you son, I’m already missing the sessions. It’s been great.
First published on www.clashmusic.com
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From Fluxus and performance-art pioneer and Two Virgins to chart-topping dance-music heroine (inspiring punk rock along the way!), Yoko Ono has been an innovative and influential force on music and art, while simultaneously campaigning for peace on the world’s stage. At 76 years young, Yoko continues to kick ass — and is preparing to release Don’t Stop Me!, a career-defining album made with her new Plastic Ono Band. The record is a gorgeous, mind-melting blend of styles, restating and sharpening themes while plunging into the always-mysterious future.
The sessions happened at NYC’s Sear Sound, the same studio that used to house the old Hit Factory, where Double Fantasy was recorded. Sean Lennon produced the sessions with Yoko and acted as musical leader for a group evenly divided between Japanese avant pop musicians, and downtown Manhattan improvisers. In the former category was Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, and the current group led by Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada – Yuko Araki and Hirotaka Shimmy Shimizu. Ms. Ono had been so happy with a performance they’d done together in Tokyo in January, she invited them to New York to record. In the latter category we find Shahzad Ismaily, Erik Friedlander, Michael Leonhart, Daniel Carter and Indigo Street, a group of brilliant instrumentalists.
As Sean says, “Yoko unleashed a deluge of new songs, writing about 16 songs in 6 days, the most prolific day peaking out at 6 songs written and tracked in an afternoon. The recording session was like a tornado of inspiration. Some of the best lyrics on the record Yoko actually ‘freestyled’ as if she were a lyrical divining rod.”
The results are pretty amazing…
Yoko Ono. BETWEEN MY HEAD AND THE SKY. Hold that thought.
|YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND
Between My Head And The Sky
CHIMERA.Violent, but tender. Sean Lennon’s mum is back!
says David Quantick, Uncut…both a mature summary of an artist’s career and something completely fresh and new.Rock and art: it’s funny, it seems an awfully long time since bag-ism and bed-ins and jamming with bearded men in robes, but about 10 seconds since Fluxus and cutting clothes off and white chess sets. Yoko Ono’s early rock excursions are, understandably, somewhat of their time; but then, so were her collaborators. John Lennon apart, she was working with Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Elephant’s Memory, all talented artists, but men who had come up through the blues, and jazz, and Marshall amps, and all that hoo ha.Yoko Ono’s art came from an uncluttered place; nobody save possibly John Cage has ever used so much space, and whiteness, and silence in their work. And it’s that which has always served her well, in both her art and her music. From David Bowie to the B-52’s, rock artists have always respected the simplicity and modernity of Yoko Ono’s work and when she released her 1980s single, “Walking On Thin Ice”, it fit right in to the new era (not least because John Lennon shoplifted Talking Heads’ “Cities” for the riff).Yoko Ono’s work has been mostly excellent (though I’m still trying to erase from my memory a concert at the Wembley Conference Centre where she sang “Imagine” as audience members waved candles) and almost always essential. “Don’t Worry Kyoko”, “Mrs Lennon”, “I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Clear Glass Window”, “Mind Train”, “Walking On Thin Ice”, “Nobody Sees You Like I Do”, “Rising” – these are just a few of the songs Ono has recorded in the past 35 years that everyone should own, encompassing not just the brilliant, hippy-distressing AAIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!! primal wail that thrills even now, but also in recent years an emotional sound which contracts with her sometimes chilly early work.
Perhaps it’s the murder of her husband that released a desire to communicate quieter feelings, perhaps it’s her upbringing in a somewhat distant Japanese well-to-do family, or just the passage of time that makes us all reflective. But Yoko Ono’s music since the 1990s has been dissonantly thunderous and quietly melancholic.
She’s also continued to have a genius for collaboration. In the 1970s, she often used John Lennon’s superstar friends, and in recent years she’s worked with Sean Lennon’s band (this album is on his label), who are forceful and happy, as you might expect, with both avant-garde and modern rock stylings.
2007’s Yes, I’m A Witch (in your FACE, misogynous rock) saw her give her old recordings to everyone from Cat Power and Peaches to Hank Schocklee and Jason Pierce, with suitably grateful results. Ono may not have been a direct influence on all these people, but without her, they’d all be playing the ukulele on a boat. Possibly.
And now she releases an album with a classically Yoko title, which like much music made by people who’ve got a hell of a back catalogue, leans on every style of her career. There’s a rhythmically heavy train song (“Waiting For The D Train”). There’s a gorgeously affirmative piano piece (“I’m Going Away Smiling”) which may well be about John Lennon. There’s both primal and post-electro blip on “The Sun Is Down” (the collaborators here are Sean Lennon, New Yorican Japanese band Cibo Matto and Tokyo’s Cornelius).
A few of the songs here are in Japanese, which is only fitting, and a lot of them (“Ask The Elephant!”) have Ono’s elliptically charming wit (if she is a witch, she’s a very funny one). The general impression is unsurprisingly eclectic with, slightly surprisingly, a lot of trumpets. The final track, “I’m Alive”, is 26 seconds long, features nothing but four words and some curious banging, and is the most moving thing I’ve heard in ages.
This is an excellent album that manages to be both a mature summary of an artist’s career and something completely fresh and new. At a time when the old daddy singers are congratulating themselves for being able to enter a studio and re-record their own songs, it must be a great source of satisfaction for Yoko Ono (and if he’s around in the ether, John Lennon) that she is out-performing, out-classing and out-original-ing her husband’s 1960s peers. But then, she always did.
|The Daily Telegraph
|Yoko Ono: Between My Head and the Sky, CD reviewLife is beautiful in Yoko Ono’s Between My Head and the Sky.
By Helen Brown, Daily TelegraphA fantastically cool sequence of strange spaces and sudden spasms, the tracks on Yoko Ono’s new record stimulate the mind like a series of unpredictable audio art installations. Fearlessly weird, she follows futuristic techno with nostalgic jazz; hippy intonations with wild ululations. And, at 76, Ono offers aural proof that, “Life can be so beautiful, especially after you’ve spent a lot of years with it.”
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band
Between My Head and the Sky
Avant-garde empress still rules with old art-rock outfitby Will Hermes, Rolling StoneWith The Beatles newly digitized, the time is right to revisit the avant-garde icon still best known as John lennon’s widow. Ono’s latest remakes the band she and lennon led in the Seventies, this time with experimental jazz musicians, synth scientists and her son, Sean Lennon, for a survey of the outlying territories Ono has bushwacked for decades. Noise grooves and electro sit alongside Ono’s fragile peace prayers and poignant poetic freestyles (“I’m Alive”).
At 76, her music remains truly vital: unsettling, touching, funny, undeniable.Key Tracks, ‘ Waiting for the D Train,” “Moving Mountains’
|YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND
Between My Head And The Sky
OUT 21 SEPTEMBERby Ian Harrison, Q MagazineFirst Plastic Ono Band record since 1973. III She’s 76, but doesn’t sound it.With a new Japanese, Manhattan Plastic Ono Band, Yoko continues her artworks-as-song with vigour and idiosyncrasy galore. Parts recall the experimental rock of Silver Apples or Can (see the groove of Ask The Elephant!) while gentler songs use acoustic instruments and piano, with reflective utterances altemating with the singer’s spirit howl. Her idealistic hippy core is intact, too, with Healing calling for all negatives to be made positive and Unun. To observing, “Life can be so beautiful, especially after you’ve spent a lot of years with it.” Lennon would be proud.DOWNLOAD: Ask The Elephant // Healing // Unun.To
|Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band
Between My Head And The Sky
(Chimera)Carry on screaming Quintessential divider of opinion returns with new band.
By Victoria Segal, MojoWhen it comes to topping the dance charts, septuagenarians are a poorly represented demographic. It was gladdening, then, to see Yoko Ono at Number 1 in Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play Songs chart in June with remixes of I’m Not Getting Enough, from 2001’s Blueprint For A Sunrise. Maybe it’s just a sad reflection of an ageist society that this is so remarkable; maybe there are hundreds of pensioners out there, unblessed/uncursed by Ono’s public profile, making experimental musical in their sheds. More likely, however, is that Ono remains a startling one-off, a curiosity even after five decades in the public eye.That she remains driven to make music – let alone music of this challenging calibre – is admirable in itself. After all, she can’t be doing it to boost her pension or preserve the unequivocal love of an adoring public. Saying that, her stock is at a high: 2007’s reputation-rejuvenating remix album Yes, I’m A Witch aligned her with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Cat Power and Antony Hegarty, while this year’s appearance at Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown was a scene-stealing event.It’s no longer iconoclastic to lionise Ono and Between My Head And The Sky – her first album to use the Plastic Ono Band name since 1973’s Feeling The Space – offers abundant evidence of artistic possibility beyond the Fab-Foursquare history of rock.With its finger on the pulse and an eye on the past, this record splits its personality into dreamy nocturnes and Janovian spasms, deadpan electro and rock frenzy. When Ono really unhinges her voicebox, there is a pleasing (although naturally distorted) echo of earlier work, especially in the wind-tunnel howl of Waiting For The D Train or the mariachi-Can of Hashire, Hashire. It’s occasionally a bit self-satisfied – perhaps inevitably with a band, including Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto and members of Cornelius, that’s the essence of late-’90s New York art scene – and for an artist capable of conceptual rigour, her more cosmic moments can seem feeble.
Healing, with its plea to change “negative energy”, is a weak new-age infusion compared with the terse electro snap of The Sun Is Down! (Cornelius Mix) or the abstract funk wobble of Ask The Elephant! The opaque meditations that close the record, meanwhile, work all the better for guarding their mystery, especially the windborne piano spores of Higa Noboru, unfolding like a picnic blanket at Hanging Rock. Between My Head And The Sky is an intriguing record, crackling with an excitement that most new artists would struggle to generate, let alone any of Ono’s rock-royalty peers. At 76, she is moving further into the zone – and there’s nothing comfortable about it.
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band
Between My Head and the Sky
(Chimera Music)Reviewed by Andy Gill, The IndependentAdvancing age clearly poses less of a barrier to pop success than in previous eras, as the recent chart placings of Bob Dylan and the Beatles can confirm.Now it’s the turn of 76-year-young Yoko Ono, with an album that confirms the youthful spirit evident on 2007’s Yes, I’m a Witch. Just as that project reinvigorated Yoko’s muse through collaborations with the likes of Flaming Lips and Polyphonic Spree, so does Between My Head and the Sky reflect the influence of a new-generation Plastic Ono Band incorporating her son Sean and the brilliant Japanese post-modernist sound-sculptors Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto, and Keigo Oyamada, better known as Cornelius. In their hands, Yoko’s poems are treated to spindly electro-funk bricolages (“The Sun is Down!”), wistful chamber-jazz reflections (“Memory of Footsteps”, “Unun. To”) and ragged space-age rockabilly (“Waiting for the D Train”). As befits her age, Yoko’s main concerns here are memory, change, departure and healing, as she contemplates the flux between vapour, water and ice in the title-track, attempts to reverse the negative energy of sad songs in “Healing”, and, best of all, muses poignantly in “Memory of Footsteps” about the way in which seemingly insignificant memories can expand to fill one’s experience. An absorbing and thoughtful work.Download this: Memory of Footsteps, I’m Going Away Smiling, Healing
|YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND BETWEEN MY HEAD AND THE SKY
(Chimera Music No. 1)
With the cackling vocal of ‘Waiting For The D Train’, Yoko Ono once again cocks a snook at those who’d brand her a harridan and, along with son Sean, Cibo Matto and Cornelius, embarks upon the best work of her musical career. Those expecting the abstract and conceptual will be confounded: in ‘Hashire, Hashire’ Ono sings in Japanese to laid-back trumpet funk. ‘The Sun Is Down’ will have James Murphy drooling as Yoko narrates over an NY groove, while the title track pays tribute to that city’s no wave scene. What better way for Ono to counter the abuse she’s been subjected to by Beatles fans than by recording an album that few of them will understand? Luke Turner Download: ‘The Sun Is Down’
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band:
DON’T STOP ME!
Chimera Music Release No. 0.
|Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band are featured on Chimera Music Release No. 0.along withChimera artists Sean Lennon, The GOASTT, If By Yes, and Kemp & Eden.|
|New 4 Track EP.||More info at: www.chimeramusic.com|
|Out now at the iTunes Music Store.||Out now, also available at the iTunes Music Store.|