★★★★★ “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
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
BETWEEN THE SKY AND MY HEAD
by Yoko Ono
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
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.