W-2 – Fanatics (2017)

99.9% of people will listen to the trailer above for W-2’s new album Fanatics and will go no further with this article. If you’re part of that zero-point-one percenter contingent who loves to indulge in anti-music music at least on occasion, keep going…

Brooklyn noisemakers Sam Weinberg and Chris Welcome got together a few years ago to form W-2 as a vehicle to explore the caustic sounds created by a certain combination of instruments. Practicing free jazz with just a tenor saxophone (Weinberg) and an electronic noise-making machine that calls to mind those Moog monstrosities of the 70s that produced those cheesy space sounds which nowadays can easily be replicated from a laptop. I don’t know what kind of synthesizer Welcome actually uses to make his squiggles, buzzes and crackles, but it’s more fun to go with the former visual.

Fanatics, now available from the Austin-based Astral Spirits imprint in cassette or download forms, is actually the duo’s third release. It’s pretty clear that by this go around, they’ve got this whole sax/synth experimental, electroacoustic Merbow-meets-Brötzmann thing down pat.

It’s not really about the sax or the synthesizer but the interaction of both with each other. It’s improvised, sure, but not necessarily random. Weinberg and Welcome might be traveling on some wobbly orbits but they’re clearly orbiting around each other. With no melody, no rhythm, no structure whatsoever, there’s just a flow and they flow together.

Moreover, the person who recorded, mixed and mastered this glorious mess is my favorite up-and-coming trumpet player, Jaimie Branch. She knows a thing or two about outsider music.

Weinberg revealed their primary mission when he stated that W-2 has “tried to develop a language that makes the two instruments indistinguishable from one another.” It’s not something that can be done willy-nilly even if the music often seems to progress that way. But somehow they’ve got that sort of telepathy going good on Fanatics, and if you like your ears assaulted with caustic, unrelenting cacophony accomplished by the coordination of two incongruent instruments, put on some headphones and give this one a listen.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron