Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Nurse With Wound - Homotopy To Marie (1982)

In algebraic topology, homotopy is the continuous deformation of one function into another… or something. I don’t think I’ve even summarised that properly from trying to look up a simplified explanation.  Somehow, that seems an ideal lead-in to discussing the fifth Nurse With Wound album, and second one to be created solely by Steven Stapleton, every Friday evening for a year, cementing his place as a true wizard of tape manipulation.

Even the track titles here are in another league.  I Cannot Feel You as the Dogs Are Laughing and I Am Blind starts proceedings with much scraping and groaning, before suddenly going full Damo Suzuki (eg Soup) about a minute before the end.  The title track is next, with those echoing gongs very much an early Stapleton staple, as are the surreal voices used.  A woman intermittently exclaims “Don’t be naïve, darling”, as if chiding the other voice in which a child recounting a hospital stay is presented in fragments.  As the track goes on, ominous creaky springs make you wonder if the child narrator hasn’t perhaps been condemned to a Victorian asylum rather than undergone a brief hospitalisation.

After the adult voice finally says something different (“Philistine!”), a few music-box fragments take us into Astral Dustbin Dirge.  Similar to the opening track, but more varied, this was omitted from the original LP for reasons of space.  Towards the end, you can hear where Stapleton would go with his next album – Astral Dustbin Dirge wasn’t on it either, despite being listed on the cover, presumably in jest at the track’s orphaned status.

Over on the old side 2, The Schmürz (Unsullied by Suckling) starts out with some sort of militaristic marching chant, cut up into incomprehensibility, and proceeds to fill out its 24 minute length with more clanging, shrill electronics, samples of choral music, more voices (including an animated conversation in Spanish), and more.  A wonderfully weird jazzy ending brings the track to a memorable close, before an 80-second epilogue of more groaning and manic cackling brings things full circle.  Beyond-essential sound manipulation.

I didn't know anybody, and there was a funny smell

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the NWW. I do enjoy your writing as well!

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  2. love the blog! Thanks for all the great posts, i have you on my two blogrolls

    https://caferegios.blogspot.com/
    http://afroharping.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. nice one! I've returned the favour. good stuff there!

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