“It’s not a band, it’s a company,” sneered John Lydon (the former lead singer of the Sex Pistols) to TV talk-show host Tom Snyder in 1980. The band/company in question was Public Image Limited; its chief executives Lydon, Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, and a rotating cast of drummers. First Wobble resigned, then Levene, leaving Lydon the sole CEO in charge of haranguing the world. Wobble soon began a prolific solo career, and Levene faded from music due to personal problems. After many years apart, two of PiL’s execs reunited to release Yin & Yang.
It mostly sounds as if these two never stopped playing together, and therein lies the problem. Much of Yin & Yang could be outtakes from PiL’s landmark 1979 album Metal Box, known in the US as Second Edition — thick slabs of bass; jagged shards of dense, shimmering guitar; and lurching beats, swirling amid surreal, dub-influenced production. All well and good, to a point, but considering the many performers since who have taken that style to new heights (including Godflesh, Bill Laswell, and Mick Harris), Yin & Yang sounds as if Wobble and Levene are coasting on past glories. The vocal tracks are, frankly, a bit embarrassing. Wobble tunelessly rants: Opposites, opposites, they attract/hard and fast yet so abstract/like a bolt right out the blue/I’m a cunt and so are you. This vocal vinegar is acceptable from someone in his teens or early twenties, but from someone age 54 — come on. Yin & Yang does have its moments, such as the inspired quasi-Afrobeat jam “Fluid,” but only those nostalgic for post-punk’s peak would enjoy this album. (Cherry Red)