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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Bermuda Tapes App Creatively Reworks John Lennon’s Final Musical Journey

One of the most rewarding experiences you'll have on your iPad this year.

By Annie Murney
November 16, 2013
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By Annie Murney
November 16, 2013
  shares

There's no end to innovative musical apps, but one of the most successful we've seen must be John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes, a new iPad app that gorgeously visualises the creative process of a true legend. Made with input from Yoko Ono and with all proceeds going to the Imagine No Hunger campaign, the app is an interactive musical journey resurrecting Lennon’s unreleased demos from his mysterious trip to Bermuda in 1980. Here, he began writing material for the first time in five years and reworking earlier demos, cultivating inspiration from his new surroundings.

It is this inspiration that director Michael Epstein has sought to harness, inviting you to steer Lennon’s yacht as he battles thrashing waves solo (in fact, he almost lost his life voyaging through these treacherous waters). Perhaps venture through Bermuda’s gardens and record your own musical fancies, or witness Lennon’s moment of realisation when he recognises Ono’s wailing vocals influencing the music of the B-52’s, pumping through '70s disco speakers.

What has been referred to here as 'The Bermuda Tapes' blossomed into John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s final studio album, Double Fantasy. Released in 1980, the album received largely negative reviews for its perceived lapse into sentimentality and familial bliss. However, the shock murder of Lennon three weeks after the album’s release swiftly transformed these criticisms into tributes and reflections on a staggeringly influential career cut short. The fact that the album became coloured by the murder is something Epstein hopes to counter, aiming to reclaim some of the music and spark fresh appreciation untainted by the tragic circumstances.

Contemplating what makes a successful album app, Catherine Moore, an associate professor of music business at New York University, told Time magazine.,“My feeling is that unless the app is visually really engaging, really fits with the music, that there’s better ways to spend your creative resources.”

It may just be that John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes meets this criteria. It is an impressive feat of digital storytelling, consisting of six chapters driven by interviews with Lennon and Ono, who comment on their being apart and how this impacted their artistic process. It is a searing portrait of the intimacy and dynamism of their relationship.

The app errs more on the side of interactive storytelling than gameplay. There is a profound sense of nostalgia imbued in the gentle and harmonious rhythm of images constantly forming and reforming. Epstein has also achieved a skillful balance between narration, music and interaction — there is no one component that feels intrusive or overbearing. It is an appropriately exploratory aesthetic in accommodating these fragments of lost music and commentary.

Epstein also insists upon the need to experience music in a new way, telling Fast Co.Create, "I think this is the logical evolution of the digital platform for music." John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes offers the industry a much-needed injection of warmth and vitality. It is a technological revival and revamping of one of our most beloved artists and musicians — the best of the past and the future moulded into one.

See more of Yoko Ono's works at her exhibition War Is Over! (If You Want It) is on at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art Australia until February 23, 2014.

Via Fast Co.Create.

Published on November 16, 2013 by Annie Murney

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