Jah Wobble & Keith Levene – Yin & Yang

Cherry Red Records/MVD Entertainment Group

Jah Wobble has literally circled the globe with bass in hand over the years, bulldozing through multiple musical boundaries in his quest to turn the planet into one big ol’ groove. For his latest project, however, he’s touched down on some familiar turf (the late ‘60s/early ‘70s British psychedelic music he listened to as a young Wobble) with an old bandmate from his Public Image Ltd. years, guitarist Keith Levene. The result is Yin & Yang – jarring, unsettling, and weirdly beautiful.

The tone of the outing is established quickly with the title track: the opening seconds are full of Jonas Persson’s massive, distorted-sounding drums, lurching and yawing like something that’s just lumbered up out of a cleft in the earth. Levene strikes a chord full of harmonics and wheeze a millisecond before Wobble arrives on the scene, exploding in a barrage of low-end rumblewomp and an F-bomb-laced rap on … well … yin and yang, oddly enough. Levene fires off abstract, chiming chords (he broke the sound ground that U2’s Edge grew from) that fold neatly into the intensifying bass and drums; a bit of mad laughter glides through and recedes into the shadows; you can almost hear the spittle on the mic as Wobble rants; a bad end to it all seems imminent – and suddenly the vocal morphs into a multi-layered hippieglide that could be a distant cousin to the Dead’s “Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion”:

What do you say? I’m out of the way …
What do you say? Come and play …
What do you say? I’m out of the way …
What do you say? Come and play …

… as the bass continues to thud away and the drums roll and tumble beneath it all. It’s a break in the tension (albeit an unsettled one), a chance to take in the song’s deep mix and complex rhythms. When Wobble comes slamming back on another tear, the point of it all hits you right in the forehead: yin. And yang. Ahhhh

Things see-saw between Crazyland and Happy-smileyville again before vaporizing into another movement – the song’s bridge, if you will – a plateau where Levene’s guitar takes the wheel with breezy bits and burbling runs that end in a lovely harmonic. The Wobble/Persson rhythm stew returns to a full, rumbling boil; there’s another flash of that mad laughter; Levene’s guitar begins snapping and biting; Wobble raves – everything stops. A moment of silence, followed by a swirl of sound that begins from a pinpoint and quickly funnels out into a walloping final slam before going off into the ether:

What do you say? I’m out of the way …
What do you say? Come and play …
What do you say? I’m out of the way …
What do you say? Come and play …
What do you say?

Easy listening? Oh, God – no. Infectious listening? Oh, yes …

Click HERE to read the rest of Yin & Yang at Jambands.com

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