Though Yoko Ono will never receive her proper due in the wider public, by 2012 she had comfortably taken up position as an elder stateswoman of art rock and experimental music, so championed by a new generation of artists that her 2007 remix album, Yes, I’m a Witch, was crafted by admirers ranging from Kathleen Hanna to Steven Wilson. But YOKOKIMTHURSTON was something else entirely, a proper collaboration between Ono and two of her biggest longtime fans, alt rock first couple Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Already separated by this time, Moore and Gordon were nearing the end of their personal and professional lives together, and indeed this may have been their final collaborative work.

Yet, if that fact lends the album added historical value, the results give one the impression that the pair’s interest in working together was already waning quickly. On tracks like “Running the Risk” and “I Never Told You, Did I?”, Moore and Gordon create scraping soundscapes that barely vary. On the former, a percolating bass and chiming guitar ping faintly around Ono warbling wordlessly for nine long minutes that lack any tense escalation or cathartic release. In many ways it sounds more like a warmup exercise than even the loosest definition of a song, with only the progression to spikier atonal notes to suggest that time has passed. On the latter, Ono and Gordon create a stereo field of whispers, with Gordon distantly cooing as Ono repeats “I never told you, did I?/ I wanted to/ But I couldn’t” over near silence.

Even a more active track like “Mirror Mirror” shows a frustrating lack of follow-through. Moore and Gordon are far more compelling here, rolling out of the gate with springy, metallic chords that turn into sheets of noise and buzzing feedback. Ono chants in and out of melody as Moore’s guitar veers into Hendrixian territory with howling wails of fuzz. Yet just as things seem to be building to something great, the track freezes in place, not repetitive enough to form a groove but also not progressive enough to make its 10 minutes feel worthwhile.

Happily, the bookending parts of the album show enough energy to be compelling. “Let’s Get There” begins as a chattering piece of dubspace, all insect clicking under breathy vocalizations. Then, about halfway through, a delicate and melodic guitar riff fades up that sounds like it could have come from one of Sonic Youth’s latter-day, more subdued records. It never quite turns into a song, per se, but the humble tunefulness is the album’s biggest surprise. Closer “Early in the Morning” has the sci-fi twang of post-rock, at once primitive and alien in its scraping strings and vaguely country-western cadence. Eventually the track gains steam with another solid guitar line, which crests and ebbs, never exploding over but generating real tension from Gordon and Ono’s heavy breathing, lending their vocals sexual undertones.

Arguably, though, the album is never better than during its opener, “I Missed You Listening.” Ono traverses her various styles of singing as if to include all of them while Gordon and Moore’s guitars zip and echo in the chasm around her. At one point, Gordon even begins to chant “My townhouse!” like a mantra, hilariously turning a materialistic cry redolent of the “My Hermes handbag!” scream in Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend into a lament, a wry and satirical take on the primal scream therapy that Ono helped popularize. If only more moments tackled Ono’s career like that, YOKOKIMTHURSTON might feel like more than a curio, a frustrating failure to launch for what should have been an invigorating collaboration.

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