As Brian Eno's sometimes all too precious liner notes explain, when he and James worked together first in rehearsals and then in full recording sessions on Laid, a conscious decision was made to work on a variety of improvisations just to see what would happen. Wah Wah is the result, one of the more uncommercial albums any band of its stature and its accompanying major label has had a hand in releasing. Those expecting 60-minute maelstroms of free noise or recitations of obscenities or the like are in the wrong place, but definitely compared to the beautifully structured and precisely produced Laid, Wah Wah is much more a series of explorations in sound, sometimes quite fascinating ones. The general focus of Laid towards an evocative, restrained attractiveness and moody melancholy holds here as well, more immediate numbers with full lyrics from Booth sung in his fine voice mixed with more open-ended instrumental or wordless vocal jams. More than a few songs could have easily fit on Laid without a worry, such as the slow building "Pressure's On," easily a cousin to Laid's album-starter "Out to Get You," and the solid, techno-tinged trip "Honest Joe." Meanwhile, "Tomorrow," in re-recorded and even more warmly epic form, later became the excellent lead track on Whiplash. One tune, "Say Say Something," shares title and inspiration with the similarly named Laid song but takes a much different direction, with what sounds like Indian violin contributing to a slow-paced, serene wash of sound. Some songs are by default much more fragmentary than others, lyrics just dreamed up of the top of Booth's head, the rest of the band working around a rhythm loop or quietly rolling rhythm. Overall Wah Wah makes for a good listen both as a companion piece to Laid and on its own understated merits.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett