Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ryan reviews Yoko Ono’s Take Me to the Land of Hell

Ryan reviews Yoko Ono’s Take Me to the Land of Hell

                As I queued up this album, I could only think to myself, “This will not end well for you.” Yoko Ono is widely regarded as the worst thing to ever happen to popular music (or music in general). Everywhere you turn she is screaming in places of fine art, or screaming on live television, or doing other crazy non-scream related things. Yoko’s latest endeavor was releasing the third Plastic Ono Band album since their reformation with her son Sean Lennon. The name of the album is Take Me to the Land of Hell. It is frightening.
Yes, this is a real thing. And no, you don't have to listen to it.
            The first song on the album, “Moonbeams” begins with Yoko imitating a bird call. This is followed by a very strange poem about the moon. Just like that, it begins. Like two cars crashing into a flock of geese, Yoko wails for what seems to be an eternity. Her guttural sounds are at once pained and ecstatic, immediately giving me the creeps. This song flawlessly segues into the next song, “Cheshire Cat Cry.” Which has a pretty funky bassline and clearly aims to be the most accessible song on the album. The Plastic Ono Band recently went on a late night comedy show and performed this song, they sound radically different. I guess that is the point of Yoko’s art, to be very in the moment.  Although, listening to this album begs the question, “What the hell is going on in her head?” I assume that it is a nightmarish hellscape of man/monsters competing for dominion over her image of the world. It is a situation where no one wins but Yoko.

            The third song of what feels like onehundred but is actually thirteen is called “Tabetai.” It has more of a late 1980’s synth melded with African polyrhythm feel. If God were truly benevolent, it would be an Enya song instead of a Plastic Ono Band song. “Bad Dancer” is a song about a bad singer also being a bad dancer accompanied by bad programming from Pro-Tools. Do not listen to it. It will give you nightmares of Yoko Ono giving you a lapdance, of which, ironically isn’t that bad.

            At this point in my listening, I took a brief reprieve. I went out and smelled a flower. I delicately shaved my face as well, then took in a movie. I realized what this album was. It was designed solely to show us the absolute bottom of music. The spike-filled pit of yodeling and awful beats. Through this moment of clarity I understood that it was a necessity. We need music like this to fully appreciate the hard work of other, talented musicians. I then woefully dragged myself back to the stereo.

            “Little Boy Blue” gives the illusion of being a normal song until it devolves into a clusterfuck of moans and cries for ninety seconds straight…

            The only serious song on the entire album is “There’s No Goodbye Between Us.” It has an emotional tone about death and coping. Yoko may be addressing the loss of John Lennon. She may also be referencing her own time left on Earth. Who knows? Coincidentally, it is the shortest song on the album (aside from the final, silent track). They have no time for sad songs that actually illicit emotion from the listeners. For the song, “7th Floor” (featuring ?uestlove), I will simply leave you with this:
Don’t cut my hands – can’t strangle you.
Don’t cut my legs – can’t walk out on you.
Don’t cut my tongue – can’t spit on you.
Don’t cut me off – I’ll kill you.

            The titular song “Take Me to the Land of Hell” does just that. It is essentially a dark song about a blood river. Which is not what I think about when I imagine Hell. It is, in fact, listening to the Plastic Ono Band. “Leaving Tim” is a jazzy song about breaking up with a guy named Tim, who may or may not be “…the son of Dracula.” It is a thoroughly confusing song and the only thing that got me through is knowing that there is only one more song left. Of course, the final song of the album is four minutes of an effect laden Yoko Ono wailing about absolutely nothing. I hate everyone responsible for this album. I wish them pain. But, the knowledge that the producers and engineers and writers had to listen to each song multiple times is punishment enough, I guess.


Final Word: Just, don’t.