Jah Wobble / Keith Levene

Yin & Yang

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AllMusic Review by

Given that this was released during the same year as John Lydon's fine This Is PiL, it's inevitable that comparisons will be made to it and this entry by original PiL members, bassist Jah Wobble and guitarist Keith Levene. While Yin & Yang isn't the former album's equal, it is a ten-song, 40-minute adventure in loopy, raw, deep dread dub, psychedelia, and post-Miles Davis-esque space jazz that's well worth your time. For starters, Levene is in excellent form. His trademark style has re-emerged as open, nasty, oblique, and sharp. Wobble's chops have been steadily polished over the years. His sense of musical adventure has occasionally proven a detriment, but that only happens once here. The highlights are numerous, beginning with plodding thud of the title track that opens the album. Simply utilizing one repetitive riff with a bridge providing an outro makes it sound like the entry point into a long jam, as Levene wails away under Wobble's dubwise thrum. Jonas Persson's basic drum kit only adds to the aural hypnosis. "Strut" showcases Persson's keyboards sounding like a trumpet. It's a driving, raw, edgy, jazz-funk jam; Levene relies on phase and wah-wah pedal to stretch his vamps, while Wobble matches the fractious funk of Persson's breaks and loops. "Jags & Staffs," the set's longest track, finds the bassist ranting a poem before a long, winding, trance-inducing instrumental jam emerges. The only real misstep is "Mississippi." The vocal is anemic, but it's the country-rock riff that's truly puzzling and off-putting. Other highlights include the tripped-out cover of George Harrison's "Within You Without You." If ever there were ever an argument for a Beatles cover, this lot's take is it. If it weren't for the vocal, it would indeed be PiL covering one of the most spaced-out Fab Four jams ever -- the engagement within this trio is post-punk psych at its best. The smoky psych vibe hangs about on "Back on the Block," before the mutant jazz funk returns on "Fluid." The last two cuts, "Understand and "Understand Dub," can be seen as a single, seven-minute jam of spliff-laden, nocturnal, rippling, edgy dreadwise dub, even if the vocal on the first part takes some getting used to. There is little to no post-production on Yin & Yang, making it feel delightfully unwieldy and disorienting. This is a better record from this pair than we had any right to expect.

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