Monday, 18 September 2017

Nurse With Wound - Insect & Individual Silenced (1981)

Been listening to a ton of Nurse With Wound this past week or two, and there hasn't been any posted here for ages, so here goes - with the one that Steven Stapleton famously hated so much that he burned the master tapes.  Finally relenting in 2007 on hearing a near-flawless vinyl rip, Stapleton decided that the album, although still a failure by his standards, wasn't half as bad as he remembered, and allowed the vinyl rip (by Kevin Spencer of Robot Records) to become this official reissue.

Listening to it now, especially in context with the three earliest NWW albums that preceded it, and Homotopy To Marie that came after, I certainly don't see a dip in quality with Insect - if anything, it's just a blip on the trajectory by which Stapleton's surrealist editing & mixing craft had been steadily increasing from album to album, which would lead to Homotopy being the first full-on masterpiece that he remains justifiably proud of.  The much freer, anarchic sound of Insect lies in the recording circumstances, as recalled in Stapleton's detailed reminisce in the CD sleevenotes - reproduced here, about halfway down the page, headed "1980: A Year Of Change".  TL;DR: Stapleton, and mates Trevor Reidy and Jim 'Foetus' Thirlwell go into a studio for two days to "see what would happen".  Record ensues; Stapleton mortified - until latter-day reappraisal.  So let's listen...

Kicking off with a roar of reverberating feedback, which will reappear sporadically throughout the track's 27 minutes, Alvin's Funeral (The Milk Was Delivered In Black Bottles) is heady, classic early NWW.  Plenty of noise and tape mutilation, voices in different languages, and other barely identifiable clankings and howlings.  Anyone familiar with Part 2 of Bradford Red Light District, Stapleton and William Bennett's experiment in cranking up every reverb setting in the studio to 11, will recognise the source that those roars of feedback have been 'borrowed' from...

The second track, Absent Old Queen Underfoot, was the first to be recorded when the three participants rocked up in the studio to let loose on a reduced drumkit (Reidy), bass amp and jack plugs (Thirlwell) and a crappy guitar (Stapleton).  The result sounds almost like industrial jazz of the most wonderfully inept variety - something to tap your foot to in a jazz club, if you happened to be Jack Nance in Eraserhead.  Lastly, there's the shorter, slightly more recognisably Nurselike Mutilés du Guerre, with more tape-bent squeaking, screaming and the looped voice of Brigitte Fontaine, and the most magnificently surreal ending possible, an arrangement of Ode To Joy for voice and... banjo.  Essential weirdness that deserves full recognition in Stapleton's long, surreal career.
CD reissue cover, 2007
mega / zippy

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Alan.
    By the way: no reaction from Musica degrata. Shall I send you the Micus & Deuter? Perfect for your blog IMHO. I can send it with Google drive. Emailaddress?
    All the best.
    Jan

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    1. hi Jan, yes, let's get it posted! If Barabbovich does get in touch he should put it up too - with one of the wonderful 'album covers' he creates.

      email: sgtgblog79 at gmail dot com

      thanks,
      Alan

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  2. Oh cool, thanks for this! Where would you recommend starting with them? I've only heard a bit of them, they're a real blind spot for me

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    1. Out of the ones I've already posted (just click Nurse With Wound tag after dl links above):

      -for the droning, dark ambient side of NWW: Salt Marie Celeste
      -for the above plus the rhythmic, clanking industrial side of NWW: Thunder Perfect Mind
      -for the comedy side of NWW: Sylvie & Babs
      -for the best introduction to his earliest work: Homotopy To Marie
      -for a good all-rounder: Spiral Insana

      Then you'll only have about another 100 or so to go - happy discovering! ;)

      The next one I'll be posting, prob next week, is one of his most sinister latter-day masterpieces. (no-one else give any spoilers if you've worked it out!)

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