The Yohimbe Brothers are the fruit of a nervy collaboration between two New York City soundscape wizards and tireless experimentalists: the ubiquitous DJ Logic – who is doing more than any other current artist to advance the notion of turntables as a viable jazz and rock percussion instrument – and guitarist Vernon Reid – whose blazing fusion experiments with solo band Masque are almost as interesting as his work as a member of trailblazing early 1990s (and recently reunited) alt-rockers Living Colour.
The duo wrought supple grooves and fascinating rhythms for its first release, Front-End Lifter (2002), but unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Yo, whose ambitious, aggressive ratcheting up of things leaves the listener feeling overwhelmed with too much cosmic slop. Whereas Lifter contained myriad experiments in several different genres (everything from dub reggae to power pop and jazz rock), Yo spends too much time mashing those already brainy science projects together, rendering them big, messy piles of disparate ideas, instead of the transcendent, out-of-the-box grooves the listener hopes for.
The cavalcade of ill-slotted guests doesn’t help either, many of them slipshod vocalists whose political posturing or bizarre pop and soul sensibilities are far from glove-fits. They largely distract from Reid and Logic’s instrumental balance on certain tracks instead of enhancing it (vocalists Bos Omega and Traz deep six cooking slide grooves from Reid on “TV” and “More from Life,” respectively), or they further complicate an already botched attempt (the opening “Shine for Me” sounds like a discarded Black Eyed Peas B-side, and that’s before its vocalists turn up). There’s so much going on in so many of these songs that it’s tough to get a foothold