Yoko Ono / John Lennon "Unfinished Music No. 1" LPSecretly Canadian
Turns out the very sound of falling in love is just as abstract, subjective and loopy as the concept itself. Yoko Ono and John Lennon are two of history's greatest lovers, and Two Virgins is the musique concrète fever dream document of the pair falling in love in real time. The album is a curious and amazing suite recorded over one weekend in Spring 1968 at Lennon's Kenwood home: Distant conversations; comedic role playing and footsteps; laughter, birdcalls and plunking piano lines; silly songs and space; tape delay stretching shrieks, bass rumbles and moans to the moon and back again. It's two young people attempting to weird one another out, attempting to make one another laugh, falling deeply into one another. John mucks around with delay and loops while Yoko exercises her expressionist vocalizations. The smoke and wine is nearly audible.
"Two Virgins No. 1" begins with a looping bird-like whistle that almost immediately threatens to clip as the magnetized tape erodes around it. But miraculously, not for a moment do these sounds ever register as foreboding or violent. It unspools into a sort of stretched and warbled piano waltz as Ono's singular vocal explorations arch above it. In the last few minutes of Side A, we hear Ono and Lennon mock domestic life over a low, ringing drone. "Is that you? Is that you?" Ono calls out. "It's just me Hilda, I'm home for tea," Lennon responds in a shrugging lower register. It's a perfect, genius antidote to the preceding 13 or so minutes. After all the distorted samples and noisy disturbances, the humorous and commonplace exchange grounds us once again. Moments like this — moments that assure things never get too depersonalized — pepper Two Virgins.
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