Many things have been said about Yoko Ono over the years. For some, she is seen as the person responsible for the split of the Beatles as she was the wife of John Lennon. Some deem her as controlling and simply cashing in on her late husband. For others, Yoko Ono is seen as an amazing artist. When it comes to her musical career, some critics have gone as far as saying that she was ahead of her, influencing artists such as the B52's and Lene Lovich. Ono's latest album, Take Me to the Land of Hell, sees her at it again with her son Sean Lennon and the revamped Plastic Ono Band. This is Ono's first studio album since 2009's Between My Head and the Sky. Even at 80 years old, Ono has made an album that sounds very modern.
For this album, Ono has collaborated with artists who are familiar with electronic music. In recent years, Ono has been able to nab several #1 hits in the Billboard Dance Charts. The collaborations actually pay off. Even with the collaborations, it still sounds like a Yoko Ono album. Ono's genre of music would be best described as experimental rock or avant garde, which this album certainly is.
The album's opener, "Moonbeams", isn't the strongest song but it opens the album perfectly: the futuristic sounds mixed in with Ono's spoken word poetry sets you up for what you're about to hear. Once you hear Ono's traditional scream, you know what you're in for. This is followed by the pleasantly psychedelic "Cheshire Cat". It has an impressive bass line that drives the entire song in this stoner rock rhythm. "Tabetai" is collaboration with tUnE-yArDs and it's a very good one: the track is catchy and has great drumming/percussion work. The most interesting of the collaborations would have to be the bouncy "Bad Dancer", which features the surviving members of the Beastie Boys. I really like this one and the strangest thing is that I have no interest in the Beastie Boys whatsoever.
Ono also has the chance to shine with several ballads. The self-titled track and "Watching the Dawn" have pretty melodies. The former uses violins while the latter is piano-oriented. While Ono isn't known for having the greatest voice, she knows how to use it when it comes to ballads. It isn't much but I think she knows it works. Ono leaves time on the album for the autobiographical "NY Noodle Town", the funky spoken word "7th Floor" and the surprisingly jazzy "Leaving Tim".
Overall, Take Me to the Land of Hell is a very good album from Yoko Ono. It's impressive that she can pull this off at her age. However, I can't say I'd recommend the album. Obviously, Yoko's music isn't for everyone. I'd say if you happen to appreciate some experimental music (i.e. Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and/or Tom Waits), give Yoko's music a chance. If you're already a fan of Yoko's music, this is a no brainer: you must get it.