2.29.2008

Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead sings a Yoko Ono song

Kazu Makino has reinterpreted and recorded a Yoko Ono song. Makino' s performance of “Listen, the Snow is Falling” (first released as a single by Ono in 1972) now in two parts opens and closes Recitement. The compilation album contains tracks that are half-spoken-word and half-music arranged and released by composer/musician Stephen Emmer from Amsterdam, Netherlands. Recitement can be previewed on the Recitement website.

The process of Recitement's production is unconventional: First text, then music. Singers, actors, and poets, such as Lou Reed and Allen Ginsburg, reinterpreted and performed “modern and classic” spoken word texts. Then Emmer composed music around the vocal performance. I read that Yoko Ono herself was pleased with Makino’s interpretation of Ono’s text.

Kazu Makino is known for her incredibly rich vocal palette in the no-wave-influenced (many people compare them to Sonic Youth) indie pop band Blonde Redhead based out of New York. One of my favorite tracks featuring Makino’s bleak visceral vocality is “I Still Get Rocks Off” from La Mia Vita Violenta” (1995). Her arty screams, moans, and cry-breaks sprinkle the track in unexpected ways and places. Makino rips her voice (or her throat!) with generosity, and with pain. Both In An Expression of the Inexpressible (1998) and “La Mia Vita Violenta” are blessed with an abundance of Makino’s noisy vocal gymnastics. Makino's style reminds me of Yoko Ono’s early vocalization, mostly during the Plastic Ono Band period (circa 1968-1972).

Makino’s tracks on Recitement sound promising from my preview of them. I will write about my reflection of them once I get a close listening of them. For now, I’m just excited to spread the word about this recording. Personally, I’m psyched about this Ono-Makino connection, which I always sensed in their music.

Here's a picture of Kazu Makino at Blonde Redhead's show last August (2007) at Rams Head in Baltimore taken by my photographer friend Chia Chi Chang:

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