Sean Ono Lennon – Asterisms

by | Feb 19, 2024 | 0 comments

Released in February 2024, Sean Ono Lennon and a cast of his downtown musician friends have painted a sonic portrait of imagery and depth. Comprised of instrumental music Lennon’s new LP Asterisms is a conglomerate and organic continuation of his musical career. Beginning with his creative solo records, moving into his collaboration with his partner Charlotte Kemp Muhl on The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and his heavy jamming with The Lennon Claypool Delirium, the Asterisms record is a step in another forward thinking direction for the creatively restless Lennon. On the record he joins a varied list of collaborators new and familiar including, Chez Smith, Devin Hoff, Michael Leonhart, Joao Nogueira, Yuka Honda, Johnny Mathar and Mauro Refosco.

The result is a shifty musical tumble through Sean Ono Lennon’s andromeda. The album is built on five instrumental pieces that Lennon first started working on during the pandemic. He recently told Rolling Stone that the record’s title is a term used to describe shapes in the sky. His Mother, Yoko Ono’s substantial artistic influence looms over the record in a beautifully transparent way as she was a major part of Lennon’s inspiration in writing the songs for the record. These aren’t songs built on power chords, the music has a pensive internal complexity that intrigues without being disorienting. Each riff has a distinct purpose and becomes the foundation in which the other instrumentalists can develop improvisations and variations on the themes. The thematically connected music tells a story aurally and visually via the listeners mind’s eye.

The album opens with “Starwater,” as it approaches the event horizon. Lennon’s circular central riff with rounded edges as it gains momentum into the either. A pulse appears and a bass guitar’s glissando’s initiate movement. The song’s loss of gravity is eventually grounded by Lennon’s bristled guitar. The seven minute opening song gathers all of the disparate elements that Lennon has laid out on the table to a tremendous and spacious effect.

“Thinking of M,” is a confluence of intimate melodies. The twinkling keyboard mantra harmonized by trumpet and Lennon’s guitar work. Shades of Miles, Pink Floyd and cozy analog sound decorate the song. “Acidalia,” is a warm groove performed in the outer reaches. Guitar Filigree’s and blue Fender Rhodes push the patient changes forward. It’s too easy to call the tune jazz as the frayed edges of psychedelia can be found in the songs corners. A disorienting mantra percolates into a substantial finale where Lennon coaxes constellations from his instrument and the horn moans in joyous conjunction.

The title track that follows is a pastoral landing onto green earth after the previous track’s dodging of sonic debris. The extended prelude exhibits cold skies, flittering flashes, and glassy refections of humanity. The song walks on warm air and moist ground. Lennon’s picked guitar line is the foundation where both the piano and trumpet build on the undulating rhythm. The alchemy is in the journey as the song soon rolls downhill into a heavy rotating segment. Lennon’s guitar flies off of the cliff and while surveying the whole scene, washes away the song proper in a quivering noise.

The final song on the LP “Heliopause,” balances on a contemplative descending melody thats gets passed around like a smoking ember. A gentle and beautiful meditation develops with the bass and keyboards moving together as one. There is what sounds like a human breath and the slight scent of something sinister on the breeze. But this feeling passes quickly as the trumpet plays a mood shifting and hopeful melody.

While Asterisms is not the usual or expected Sean Ono Lennon solo record, the LP says just as much as his previous work but without needing words. The album is patient and emotive. It plays like one movement, honestly and unpretentiously. It’s unclassifiable sound a result of the originality of its composer and the depth of the music’s influence.

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