Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - 'Yin & Yang' CD Review (Cherry Red Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - 'Yin & Yang' CD Review (Cherry Red Records)

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - 'Yin & Yang' CD Review (Cherry Red Records)
Jah Wobble described the impetus behind this new album (and reunion with original PiL guitarist Keith Levene) by saying "I reunited with Keith a couple of years ago. He was off smack and keen to play again. We had a bash in a rehearsal room and it went well. To start with I got him to play on three tracks of the album (Psychic Life) that I was making with Julie Campbell (Lonelady). Since then we have performed ‘Metal Box in Dub’ live. These shows were very well received. As far as I was concerned he was back and on top of his game again. I thought it would be a good idea to go and record some new material."

Given Wobble and Levene's history, Yin & Yang's dissonant rhythms, rumbling bass lines and squalling, atonal guitar riffs will come as no surprise. Some of the surprises are Wobble's free-form spoken word lyrics (shades of John Cooper Clarke and Genesis P-Orridge) on "Ying and Yang" and "Jags & Staffs", a complete deconstruction of George Harrison's "Within You Without You" which leaves the piece sounding like a Psychic TV number and the upbeat, Southern-tinged 60's pop song "Mississippi", which is a "Jack Kerouac" travelogue with big Beach Boys-style harmonies.

Other numbers like the instrumental "Back on the Block" bring out both the sound and anger of the early PiL numbers and "Understand"/"Understand Dub" take PiL's reggae/dub influences one step further. Interestingly, "Understand" features Nathan Maverick who sang the PiL numbers at the Metal Box in Dub shows but, on this track, there is no trace of Lydon's howl. "Fluid"/"Vampires" (note: the tracks run together) take PiL's core sound and adds a free-form jazz element. Wobble said "When Keith and I performed ‘Metal Box In Dub’ I invited my regular trumpet player Sean Corby along. I knew that he would help inject an element of ‘Electric period Miles’ into the mix. Not long after we had finished recording ‘Metal Box’ back in 1979 I heard Miles Davis’s ‘Dark Magus.’ Well, it absolutely blew me away. Sean steals the show on "Fluid", my old friend ‘Little Annie’ does the same on "Vampires". Marc Layton-Bennett, my regular drummer, plays like a demon throughout."

Wobble describes this disc as "linked to psychedelic music (especially the British variety), of the swinging sixties through the mid seventies that we both would have been exposed to when we were young. Bands such as Hawkwind and the Pretty Things spring to mind." From my perspective, Yin & Yang sounds like a logical extension of PiL's Metal Box and the songs hold up well after repeated listens.

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene