Wetware Ratchet Up the Intensity to a Nightmarish Degree on 'Flail'

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

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.





The Texas Gentlemen Share the Powerful and Soulful "Last Call" (premiere)

Eclectic Texas band, the Texas Gentlemen return with a vibrant, imaginative LP that resists musical boundaries. Hear their latest epic single, "Last Call".


Vincent Cross Pays Tribute to Folk Hero via "King Corcoran" (premiere)

Gangs of New York-era James "The Rooster" Corcoran was described as the terror of New York's east side. His descendent, Vincent Cross, retells his story with a "modern dark fairy tale".


Eddy Lee Ryder Gets Lonely and Defiant with "Expected to Fly" (premiere)

Eddy Lee Ryder explores the loss of friendship and refusal to come of age, cloaked in the deeply dramatic and powerful song, "Expected to Fly".


Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.


Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.


Fave Five: The Naked and Famous

Following two members leaving the group in 2018, synthpop mavens the Naked and Famous are down to a duo for the first time ever and discuss the records they turned to help make their aptly-named fourth record, Recover.

Evan Sawdey

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.


Art Feynman Creates Refreshing Worldbeat Pop on 'Half Price at 3:30'

On Half Price at 3:30, Art Feynman again proves himself adept at building colorful worlds from unexpected and well-placed aural flourishes.


The Beths Are Sharp As Ever on 'Jump Rope Gazers'

New Zealand power-poppers the Beths return with a sophomore album that makes even the most senior indie-rock acts feel rudimentary by comparison.


Jessie Ware Returns to Form on 'What's Your Pleasure'

On What's Your Pleasure, Jessie Ware returns to where it all began, the dance floor.


The Jayhawks Offer Us Some 'XOXO'

The Jayhawks offer 12-plus songs on XOXO to help listeners who may be alone and scared by reminding us that we are all alone together.


Steve McDonald Remembers the Earliest Days of Redd Kross

Steve McDonald talks about the year that produced the first Redd Kross EP, an early eighth-grade graduation show with a then-unknown Black Flag, and a punk scene that welcomed and defined him.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.