Jah Wobble – A Brief History of Now (Cleopatra)

The long overdue PiL bassist’s debut solo album finally arrives following a catalogue of work comprising decades’ of recordings with his band The Invaders of the Heart and world music collaborations. The album, having been released on an American label, is a strange mix of Americana alternative rock and Wobble’s own basslines. It opens on the spoken word narration styled, ‘Last Exit’, about the esoteric experience of being in America and the sensory overload of its culture, featuring a voice encoded chorus and guitar parts by Wobble’s album collaborator and friend Jon Klein, originally of Siouxsie & The Banshees, who has also been playing alongside the PiL founder on the live tour of his 2021 album, ‘Metal Box – Rebuilt in Dub’.

The release’s second track is the catchy football themed ‘Wrong Side of The Line’, showcasing a more alternative guitar based sound before the contrast of the instrumental ‘SOO 135’; creeping baselines amongst a clatter of saxaphonics and other instrumentals. The album even includes Britpop sounds such as in the ’60s track ‘Fashion World’ before its eponymous single, ‘A Brief History of Now’; yet another esoteric analysis of a bombarding, apocalyptic world as shown in its accompanying video; samba sounding with a pounding bassline and the repeated Latin American phrase, “Dios Bendiga America”.

Strangely the album then includes a cover of Wire’s ‘The Fly’, which was suggested to Wobble and which doesn’t even begin to match up to the original, then the bluegrass banjo of ‘This is The Love’, which as the a homesick ballad goes, strays far, far away from Wobble’s comfort zone but works on the tracklist. The release returns to his stripped down spoken word singing style and basslines in the comedic ‘Master of Time’ and finishes on the equally mocking, ‘Socially Functioning Psychopath’.

‘A Brief History of Now’ is available now on vinyl, coloured vinyl, CD and digitally.

© Ayisha Khan.