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Jah Wobble — A Brief History of Now
(Cleopatra CLO3914, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-02-29

A Brief History of Now Cover art

Since first coming to attention with Public Image Ltd in the late 70s, bassist Jah Wobble has had a varied career exploring music that combines influences from all over the world, with special focus on dub and punk rock. A Brief History of Now continues his exploration of those ideas, presenting them in a propulsive and enjoyable set of tunes. Much of the time, the bass is forward in the mix, but not in any kind of “lead bass” way — these are rhythm parts, sometimes sparse, sometimes busier, always with a funky bounce to them. Wobble’s primary collaborator on the album is Jon Klein, who handles guitars, keyboards, drums, and clarinet as well as vocals; Wobble contributes bass, keyboards, drums, and percussion along with vocals. There are guest players on various tracks, including Warabe Tatekoji (sax), Terry Edwards (sax), Anthony Hopkins (guitar), and Keiko Yamazaki (backing vocals). In case Klein’s name is unfamiliar, he’s best known for being a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees in the late 80s and early 90s, starting with the Peepshow album. Many of the tunes feature spoken word sections, but the earthy accent and the amusing turns of phrase keep these parts from being jarring or tedious. The songs are full of social commentary on our modern world, but Wobble has a way of not sounding dogmatic or abrasive, tempering his observations with humor and clever phrasing, not to mention the catchy beats. I don’t doubt that some programming was involved in the production of this album, but it sounds very natural and organic, and a lot of that is down to Wobble’s great sense of putting together great bass parts. Like many of the best bassists, he has a way of making music work while not drawing attention to himself with flashy technique. A Brief History of Now is a very enjoyable album that balances serious ideas with danceable rhythms and colorful arrangements.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Jah Wobble


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