Approximately Infinite Universe
The two record set lays back considerably in density and sonic chaos. Elephant's Memory accommodate Ono's intimate, almost hushed vocals with tasteful bluesy, organ-laced grooves that put a focus on her delivery and heartfelt lyrics, almost in the same way the Velvet Underground's third album developed in the sonically-scorched path of White Light White Heat. "Death of Samantha" exudes a smoky lounge aura of self-confidence in this newfound musical environ, while simultaneously depicting an ongoing pain, no doubt reflecting on inner turmoil Ono was going through in her relationship with Lennon during the album's recording. But in pain, as always, comes Ono's strength, and the dichotomy of her own personal relationship vs. those between men and women of the world rings loud and clear through the subtleties in these grooves. Opener "Yang Yang" spits some pretty venomous words at Lennon while simultaneously offering solutions ("Come out and join us/Join the revolution"); The fired-up "What A Mess" is an unforgiving rant about inequality, money and power. Here, Ono stands up and makes Approximately her album in its truest sense. Its assertion is clear, and while her lyrical stance about dominating males messing up her/our world is aggressive, songs like "What A Bastard the World Is" and "I Want My Love To Rest Tonight" also go on to reflect wounded longing and need to be a part of her love's life, the latter's lyrics offering "Sisters don't blame your man too much/You know he's doing his best." She stands with conviction and strength.
Add this powerful feminist statement to the fact that the music business in 1973 was in its post-Woodstock explosion: A&R men, radio programmers, marketing execs, booking agents: men with a chokehold over the business, and Yoko's entry into it a complete question mark to them all. Ono absolutely intended to boggle the boys' club of the music industry. Fast forward to today, and Approximately Infinite Universe stands as a template for powerful female artists to follow in the years ahead.
(SC283 released: 07/14/17)