Yohimbe Brothers

The Tao of Yo (Thirsty Ear)

Let’s pretend that the Yohimbe Brothers are making music in a cultural vacuum where no one remembers Vernon Reid’s work with Living Color and the world has yet to discover Dj Logic, who has appeared on albums all over the musical map (including works by Dj Spooky, Vitamin C, and the terribly Phish-esque String Cheese Incident). All formal aspects of the songwriting are solid and in the execution Reid’s guitar work is consistently tight while Logic maintains interesting, if not innovative, work on the turntables. But does this make it worth listening to? With or without context, half the tracks on this album are just plain good, with the duo throwing the weight of their abilities into some finely crafted instrumental work. “Shape 4” and “Shape 1” present a blend of tap dancing and impromptu steel string that might feel more comfortable on a compilation disc with Jack Rose and Steffan Basho than it does matched up with classically-themed rap music and occasional metal riffage. “Overcoming,” on the other hand, blends steel string arpeggios, muddy beats, skronking electric guitar masturbation and some old-fashioned turntablist quirks without sounding the least bit trite. As for the acoustic/hip-hop fusion of “30 Spokes” and the sample-philic outro track, “Perfect Traveler (Tourist Europe),” even they furnish enough interest and instrumental dialogue to be considered something far beyond simple filler. Yet the album’s girth rests equally on vocal tracks, particularly blends of heavy rock guitar and politically charged rap; thus we return to the album’s real context. When I say that the Yohimbe Brothers blend heavy metal guitar and wild beats beneath aggressive rhyme schemes, don’t think of Old Dominion or DŠlek, instead recognize the fact that these are musicians more accustomed to attending the Grammies than being picked apart by Pitchfork Media. Still, if this is where ‘mainstream’ is headed then the distinction is soon to be obsolete.