Listed in the credits for “Warzone”, the new track from Yoko Ono, Thomas Bartlett occupies piano, keyboard, and electronics. Ono, herself, delivers the vocals. Also listed are ‘elephant, crow, wolf’. It’s the noise of these creatures that open the track, and they come in like a sonic tarot – each animal representing something dark, desperate, archetypical. We know what these animals make us feel, and what they represent, and to hear them screeching together is utterly disquieting. Then there is the sound of machine gun fire. It’s a hell of an opening.
With a recent foray into EDM, Yoko Ono topped the Billboard Dance Club Chart with “Hell In Paradise 2016 “. The track was issued in a sequence of remixes and continued the artists’ motifs of disruption and a longing for peace. Now, she returns with a new album to be released in October on Chimera Music. Tonally, things couldn’t be more different. Thematically, this is classic Ono – a dispatch from the depths of conflict; a simple message from the complexities of modern living. We need peace.
Yoko Ono is an artist that has made a career of protecting human scale values; combating conflict by simply producing the most beautiful work she could muster. She confounds her detractors by producing works that represent light, she does not enter the dark. Without inner peace external peace is impossible, and everything else becomes corroded. On “Warzone” – the title track of the upcoming album – Ono once again steps up against the bullshittery of the contemporary political and cultural landscape. She measures the damage created by conflicting lies and half-truths, and also the damage created by living mindlessly.
Oscillating between grim docu-dramatic images, “Men flashing their guns and their balls.” “Women looking like Barbie Dolls” and an uncontrived, personal plea for help, Yoko Ono achieves what she achieves best – a rare form of vulnerability. The world of the avant-garde artist is one that often relies on a cerebral awareness of a subject. What Yoko Ono achieves here, and what this track promises for the new album is a clear path to her root values; her ability to screw the academic register, and to produce something that’s visceral, emotive, heartfelt – and ultimately, the promotion of peace.
Yes, Yoko Ono is still banging on about peace – but maybe that’s because we’re surrounded by fuckers whose principle aim is to prevent peace from breaking out. Fuck those guys – we need art now more than ever.
New tracks from Yoko Ono’s Warzone album will be shared every Tuesday at midday NY time, 5pm UK via YokoOnoWarzone