Photo: Lena Shkoda / Courtesy of Sacred Bones/Dais Records

Wetware Ratchet Up the Intensity to a Nightmarish Degree on ‘Flail’

Brooklyn's Wetware have created a wild collection of industrial noise on Flail that sounds more like an intense fever dream than anything else.

Sacred Bones / Dais
26 June 2020

The last release from Wetware – the Brooklyn-based duo comprised of Roxy Farman and Matt Morandi – was 2018’s Automatic Drawing, an album of intoxicating industrial beats that have a definite experimental thrust but still contain a hint of accessibility. If that album made vague concessions outside the grind of harsh experimentalism, their latest, Flail, shows no such compromise. In short: Flail is loud, full-on chaos.

The album begins with a brief appetizer, the 42-second “Car Dancer”, which sounds like a train or machine transporting the listener to the depths of despair to come. It’s followed by the cacophonous “Kismet”, where distorted, desperate vocalizing is accompanied by a multilevel attack of blasts, beats, and squeals. Flail is a relatively unrelenting experience, but the noise comes at you in degrees. By comparison, “And So It Is” seems more measured, if only because it seems to exist within something of a typical song structure, and therefore the intensity is somewhat dulled.

Sometimes the thrill of Flail is hearing softer, more subtle sequences and waiting for the other shoe to drop; for a gentle, droning buzz to give way to chaos. The album’s first single, “Exaggerated Bliss”, begins with something of a warm backdrop, but a buzz-saw of sizzling effects and a slow, heartbeat-like thump accompanies a chilling spoken word sequence. This is music that sounds like it was created in the dark, with only the glow of electronic readouts visible. The following track, “Indifference”, also incorporates dramatic spoken word, but is delivered in a harsh, almost accusatory manner. “What are your interests?” Farman demands, and responds with a confused “Who is this? Who is this?”

Occasionally, concessions are made toward dance beats, but as on “Rivalries Regulars”, the beats tend to stack up and stumble over each other, creating confusion and disorientation. “She Was Having a Good Time” incorporates a steady, almost maddening beat, with smooth, sustained synth stabs creating the impression of a train (or spaceship) flying through the atmosphere at lightning speed.

On “Horse Pistol”, Wetware close
Flail with a distortion-infused soundscape that’s accompanied by the same harsh, intimidating spoken word that was on so many of the previous tracks. It’s a nightmarish ride, but oddly enjoyable in the way that film buffs love a good horror flick. With Flail, Wetware have created a thrilling bit of industrial maximalism, as Farman and Morandi throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. The result is an unholy mess, but one that is seductive and somewhat of a wonder to behold.

RATING 8 / 10