Red WharfMusic

 

 

Steven Stapleton and Graham Bowers

The collaborations are a result of the chance meeting of Nurse With Wound's Steven Stapleton and Graham Bowers, both artists were appearing at Bangor Sound City's first art/sound event 'Wet Sounds' curated by Joel Cahen located at the Bangor Swimming Pool, North Wales, in January 2011. Both were admirers of each others past works and felt that a collaboration on a new piece of work could be an interesting and exciting prospect.
Consequently Rupture was the first full length work, and was released as a Double Vinyl album/LP, a CD and Download.
The Vinyl album and CD have been released through Dirter and are distributed by Cargo.

Following on from the success of Rupture, a new work Parade was released on the 3rd of June 2013 as a CD
A Double Vinyl album was released in February 2014.
Both were released through the Red Wharf label and distributed by Cargo.

A small number of Diploid (Parade ~ Epilogue) CDs are now on sale,as well as a Standard Edition of the Double Vinyl album Parade
Of Interest?
~ go to shop.

ExcitoToxicity is the third collaboration, released May 2014 through Red Wharf and Distributed through Cargo.
CDs are available at the shop

Mutation is the fourth collaboration released in February 2015 through Red Wharf and distributed through Cargo.
CDs are available at the shop.

 

 

 

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New Release

Mutation
... The Lunatics are running the Asylym ...

A collaboration between Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) and Graham Bowers

Physically: A mutation occurs when a DNA gene is damaged or changed in such a way as to alter the genetic message carried by that gene.
Mentally: Anything goes ... and it does.

A continuous musical track in six sections:

CHAUFFEUR TO MADNESS
MIND RODENTS
THE LOOPING FLAW
A TWISTED SNARE
CEREMONIAL DISTORTION
MOTHERING TONGUE

Steven's artworks were a result of a conversation with Graham, where the phrase ... The Lunatics are running the Asylum ... slipped out.

 
 
 
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Mutation
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Chauffeur to Madness

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Mind Rodents

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The Looping Flaw

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A Twisted Snare

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Cermonial Distortion

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Mothering Tongue

 

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Freq ~ Magazine

Michael Rodham-Heaps ~ 24th April 2015

Graham Bowers and Nurse With Wound – Mutation

Another fine instalment from the crossed wires of Bowers and Stapleton and what a lovely gyroscopic mess it is too. A continuous musical (mis)adventure divided into six sections whooping an avant classical knot of slippery eels that’s thematic spun around the notion of lunatics overrunning the asylum. Those tonal flashes, plunging necklines and swivelling hinges of the first track certainly cheese-wire your hemisphere good and proper, then proceed to trample over them in ceramic clogs. Beats that build bridges over an illness of weeping shivers and fanfares, cross-roaded in Billy Bunter-like rotunds on hot buttery escalators.

Honestly, for this duo its business as (ab)normal — a drift of Stravinsky-like ruptures that holds plenty to the eerie collaging of the surrounding artwork, some of Stapleton’s best methinks. The gnawing tremors of “Mind Rodents” descending xylo-chandeliers that weirdly manage to sound (actually) tuneful, scattered into the night like a palm full of stars; or are they spanners falling down a drainpipe? Duality, duplicates, doppelgänger pear drops, this is bold bombastic stuff full of ratchetty details that eat away at your concubines in all the best ways.

‘The Looping Flaw” is like a Simon Rattle Groundhog Day caught in Reich repeating circles (a motif that returns), thumping booms swamped in emergency bleeps and bendy pins. Pianos that sound like teeth bouncing off milk bottles, pottery chinks grinning like a mischievous door-to-door salesman caught from behind. Bloated paintwork bubbling up, cracking, revealing the whir of little clockwork chambers before squirting the toothpaste tube over the mangled mathematics once again. The speaker a swarming bed of intrigue stirred anti-clockwise with a bony finger. Really brings a tear to my eye, like a muddling of the sorcerer’s apprentice swing-sawing on some invisible tightrope; its vertigo’s hard to shake.
Those glorious clanking textures held in a hyperactivity of angles and lunges that coaster in crazy perspectives, the strange muttering voices that seem to be speaking from behind your wall rather than within the music. Outruns itself in comedic shapes that flutter, quake, wallow in the broken shadows of their former selves, the end of “Ceremonial Distortion” suddenly sounding like a taurine(ed) Herbie Hancock throwing a few hammers between his ivory breakdowns.

Mutation fits glove like with the others that proceeded it, leaving the fabulous entitled “Mothering Tongue” to seal the deal in looptastic intensity, rushing contours all zitttttttherrrry gong (the instrument, not the band) fish until left bleeping out into the darkness like a red myopic eye.
Right; I’m gonna spin this baby again and try to mentally trap more of its blurring edges. I doff my hat to you, Graham and Steven: you’ve gone and created another masterpiece of I’m not sure what.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

 

Loki ~ 24th April 2015

They’ve been here before. Well, not quite here but near enough. This isn’t the first collaboration and, on this evidence, it won’t be the last. They’ve found that rubbing up against each other generates just enough electricity (teenage lightning, perhaps).

I’ve been in and out of the NWW canon for what seems like all the years now; I drift away, malcontent; having heard it all before (the creaks, the sighs, the gushes and rattles) and then something drags me back into the fold again, some little release slips out and makes me reconsider the oeuvre all over again (and inevitably sends me back to all the other stuff I have; re-listening, re-discovering). So it’s been with Steven Stapleton since I used to play out his Automating Volume 2 (still my favourite) record on the (not at all) infamous Swansea University lunchtime radio slot. It wasn’t a popular show. Perhaps not even memorable. I’ve loved some releases, I’ve let others pass me by. I’m always interested and they often get my attention when I’m not expecting to hear them but… there’s so many Nurse With Wound records out there, so many people to collaborate with and, surely, only so many ways to play that studio.

Well, sort of. The studio’s clearly like chess. Even the same sounds can be moved around in thousands of configurations and you get the feeling that both these guys are sticklers for placement; in this release, the sounds must be there, in that release they must be there; this is non-negotiable and is a constant joy. There’s nothing slapdash about this, even the chance meetings are carefully considered. This is a world that isn’t yours and they’re letting you know that. There’s a sophistication about NWW releases now not present in those earlier ones which received ????? ratings from Sounds magazine; spontaneity, for sure, but every idea seems like it’s been fully considered, placed like a line in Finnegan’s Wake, thought and wrought.
like the music from my little ‘uns ‘educational’ iPad games filtered through Maldoror.

This particular release is one of my favourites from recent times and I guess it’s because it sounds a little like a demented carnival, through André Breton’s Exquisite Corpse, through (add in your own). The juxtapositions perhaps aren’t as jarring as they once were, but I’m grateful for that, having no further desire to bewilder my senses, to annoy myself into submission. At times, this even sounds like someone else could’ve recorded it (okay, that’s a lie). These are singular artists and together that doesn’t diminish (the issues I have with collaboration is that often you get a kind of compression; none here). I’m really enjoying this album. It’s kinda fun.


But…

Every record in this series (this is the fourth collaboration) sounds like it belongs as part of the sequence and, a little frustratingly, you get a feeling similar to the dread when you realise during, say the third season of Homeland, that this could just run and run and run and… although you’re loving it, there’s something nagging at you that says: I desperately need an ending here. If you can get over this, or if you’re looking for another gateway drug back into the world of NWW then this is for you. I’m still waiting on them saying that next season will be the last.

-Loki

 

 

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Previous Release

     
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ExcitoToxicity
A collaboration between Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) and Graham Bowers

Featuring
Peter Benedict Gallagher Guitar and various Piano parts.
Mark Porter Saxophone

An excess of most things, both mentally and physically, although exciting and pleasurable, can easily accelerate and rapidly become toxic.
On a cellular level ... deadly

A continuous musical track in six sections:

CHAINS AND GATES
THE WORM WITHIN
JACK HAMMER MUTATION
DANCING TIGER
EXCITOTOXICITY
BROKEN SYMMETRY

We have thrown caution to the wind and gone overboard on the quality of the 8 Panel DigiPak artwork design and packaging for this release ... why? ... Graham liked all Steven's proposed paintings for the album ... so Steven decided we should feature them all ... on a heavy board in full gloss, on a matte background.

The Limited Editons have all been sold.

 
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Chains and Gates

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The Worm Within

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Jack Hammer Mutation

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Dancing Tiger

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ExcitoToxicity

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Broken Symmetry

 

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Read Reviews of ExcitoToxicity

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Reviews ~ ExcitoToxicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Freq ~ Magazine

Michael Rodham-Heaps ~ 28th July 2014

Graham Bowers and Nurse With Wound – ExcitoToxicity

It’s hard to get a handle on this word wise; I was really tempted to leave this as a three letter review – just “wow,” with maybe a few exclamation marks for good measure. Indeed I think this impression was cemented in the first two minutes and didn’t seem to waver in the slightest for ExcitoToxicity‘s whole duration. I know I’m incredibly biased towards Stapleton and Co. (I think he’s notched up a 25 year obsession for me already), but the studio dexterity on display here is so good at hijacking your lobes, blancmanging expectations in swerving colour and sleight of hand, you’d be foolish to pass on the experience.

Continuing Stapleton’s recent collaborations with fellow din denizen Graham Bowers, this recent offering brings to mind (for me at least) Spiral Insana‘s mouldering ilk, but refracted through insect eyes. It’s like a hall of mirrors, dribbling with recurring motifs, little bites of the cherry scattered through a multi-headed raggedy man, prism-foddered to differing perspectives, toe dipping the focus in textural honeycombs. Those clatter-caked edgings cerium-bouncing with tasty additions of fuck-off gut-tars, burning on a weirdo(ed) diet of Guru Guru funnelled down the injured panoramas of Amon Düül. You could say this is all over the place — not as chaotic as Parade perhaps, although it certainly shares its tendency to fly off the handle at times (my poor speakers) betwixted by a calm calculated lance or jerky puppeteers hands — seriously, you  just can’t fathom how this sets my shadowy heart aglow.

The action commences with “Chains and Gates,” like a kite adrift on sinister thermals, full of temple palms and twilight sines as breathy snakes of uncertainly knot up wisps of  Spanish guitar. A tantalising spread of classic Wound topiary, tensile charged, filled with a sense of something unsavoury lingering just around the corner. A vibe suddenly pulled into the chromatic chasm of heavy piano misuse, a violent schism overtaken by a SLAM of beat and layers of grandiose guitar heroics. A raucous incentive (the windows are rattling again), bringing back memories of Peat Bog’s meaty “Bone Frequency” underpinned by an anvil-like chime, chased in disembodied wahs and percussive custards, everything convulsively flittering in your inner ear like a bunch of diced earth worms. Squirming in alternate realities, body-snatched in radio surf and alarm clock noodles. That glinting anvil falling foul of badly-oiled gates to wallow in the protozoics of the beginning once more.

Another two tracks slip by in melancholic whist and scattering metallics. Strange shuffles of alien percussives tapping momentums in ill-fitting shoes. The warping piano and timpani tumble (found on both Rupture and Parade) is all present and correct, squirted between slices of eyeball, radiophonic slivers — the instantly recognisable Huffin’ Rag Blues woman with her West/East Coast drool; broken toys; and more momentary madness. “Dancing Tigers”‘s damaged boy racer wheelies and chugging frets are great too, dump-trucked into an astral dustbin of trickster tinkering. That tap-dancing nail gun stapling oak, jumping the table gaps, floating away on zero gravities, the muted scrape of pearly gates and asthmatic lungs. Beautiful stuff that oxbows the brain in hypno-badness, a spell broken in anvil-like slashes of armour plate and wah(ed) currency. Seamlessly carrying on, the title track is a riveted circus of garbled joy with a heated argument thrown in for good measure, then ambient reflection marred by thunderous piano inners. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Hitting the final furlong, “Broken Symmetry” starts with ’30s flappers melded with brutalised drums, leading to a reprise of the first track. Insides turned outside, branching into a dichotomy, a split layering of  loose change falling into an enormous collection plate, beneath which a marginalised Brian May is fret-fucking to his hearts content .The metallic flavour of the coinage overtaking it all in a glorious loosening of limbs. Another great collaboration with Graham Bowers and a worthy addition to the NWW canon towering by my stereo’s side (some would say an industrial accident waiting to happen!).

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

 
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Brainwashed ~ Magazine

John Kealy ~ 1st September 2014

Nurse With Wound and Graham Bowers – ExcitoToxicity

Excitotoxicity is an unwanted process where neurons become over-activated from a surplus of the neurotransmitter glutamate, resulting in cell death and, ultimately, tissue damage and degeneration. Essentially, neurons receive too much stimulation causing the usually well-balanced internal physiology of each cell to become off-kilter and produce excessive levels of harmful molecules that break the neuron down from the inside-out. It is believed to be an underlying part of a number of serious neurological diseases including motor neuron disease, a disease that Graham Bowers has become a victim of. This album is partly a musical diary, an artistic interpretation of neurophysiological processes and a very human response to an unfathomable loss of control.

ExcitoToxicity’s release comes at a time when mentions of motor neuron disease (MND; or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS) are running like wildfire through social media thanks to the ice bucket challenge. In contrast to the scores of healthy, young people light-heartedly "raising awareness" about a disease that many cannot describe let alone imagine, this release from Bowers and Steven Stapleton is a quiet and lonely call from the other side of the coin. It is impossible to listen to ExcitoToxicity without taking account of all the contextual information that the album carries with it from the dispassionate facts of how excitotoxicity and disease occur in the body to the highly personal journey that Bowers has found himself traveling upon. "Chains and Gates" begins from an ominous silence before building into a beat and guitar heavy crescendo. The rhythms are sabotaged and pushed into the background by sparks of sound and bell-like interruptions, much like the regular firing of the nervous system becomes dysregulated and disrupted by abnormal activity within itself during neurodegeneration. The album continues in this manner, setting up musical scenarios and dashing them upon the rocks of atonality.

Much like the duo’s first collaboration, Rupture, which dealt with the damage done to the brain through stroke, the idea of the brain as a tightly controlled musical engine (due to its inherent rhythmic activity in the form of brain waves) is used here to demonstrate how delicate this system can be. Throughout ExcitoToxicity, noises begin at low volumes and repeat while simultaneously rising to uncomfortable and almost painful levels. This is a fantastic audiological metaphor for the physiological process of excitotoxicity as neurons fire and fire and fire until they physically break down. More specific references to MND/ALS are made through the titles, "Jack Hammer Mutation"referring to genetic factors associated with the disorder and "Broken Symmetry" reflects the progression of the disease, with paralysis usually developing along one side of the body before crossing over to the other.

Taking all this together as a concept album, it is very clever. Add in the fact that the music is a step up from previous NWW/Bowers collaborations (which have been brilliant so far) and this makes for a wonderful release. However, just when I become embroiled enough in the album to get lost in its sounds, I remind myself of Bowers himself going through the emotional and physical turmoil of his body closing in on itself as MND/ALS is a neurological disorder that spares the mind; unlike Alzheimer’s or even extreme Parkinson’s, MND/ALS will destroy the motor system but leave the patient fully aware. Therefore, to think of ExcitoToxicity as purely an art project about a disorder does it a huge disservice, it is also the sound of a man coming to terms with his own mortality and how the rest of his days will be spent. Knowing this makes every second of ExcitoToxicity precious and heavy, heavier than any other recorded work I can think of.

Perhaps the most disturbing of all NWW-related releases of late though is Excitotoxicity, Stapleton's most recent collaboration with UK artist, Graham Bowers. Instead of imposing NWW's full-scale oneiric fictions on our waking psych, Stapleton's skills in collage (both aural and visual) are complemented by Bowers' ongoing interest in using sound as theatre to create the audio equivalent of excitotoxicity - the death of nerve cells due to excess - often cited as a symptom of various neurological diseases.
Like their first collaboration, Rupture, which attempted to describe in sound what it feels like to suffer a stroke, Excitotoxicity's regular descents in and out of cacophonous clamour suggest the uneven, cyclical rush and lull of a diseased brain. Surprisingly, the ingredients are largely musical, with lots of bells, guitar, flute, horns, and even industrial rhythms and orchestral swells, but the editing is so wildfire that a groove or a pattern is rarely allowed to form. It's a highly creative yet terrifying proposition of a real-life, degenerative health issue experienced by many.

-John Keally-

 
 

Musique Machine ~ Duncan Simpson


The first two installments of Steven Stapleton's collaboration with Graham Bowers left me rather cold. Both Parade and its predecessor Rupture seemed hastily composed, lacking coherence and relying on an irritating overuse of synthesized or otherwise artificial sounding instrumentation. Stapleton's characteristic use of space and tension has over the last few years appeared less and less at the heart of Nurse With Wound's work. Whether this is down to the influence of his collaborators or whether the doyen of audio Dada is just losing his touch is not clear. The result has been to render NWW's output rather indistinct, particularly so considering the never ending conveyor belt of re-issues, alternative versions, live performances and outtake compilations. So perhaps it's with some degree of surprise that I can report that Excitotoxicity is a really good record.
Stapleton once wrote that he disliked using synthesizers on his records as he felt they quickly sounded dated. Thankfully the synthesized elements so prevalent on the duo's two previous outings have been scaled back and in their place are live instrumentation courteous of Peter Benedict Gallagher and Mark Porter. The formers squalling guitar is most prominently deployed across most of the record's six tracks. Opener Chains and Gates builds up slowly with bowls and bells before Gallagher's guitar makes its appearance, first gently plucking his strings then generating walls of feedback before launching into full on psych-rock trip out groove. The odd sampling (this time including American voices discussing what sounds like sociology and race theory) and stabs of orchestral noise from the previous two records are still present but set against the groove of the guitar and percussion the whole hangs together in a way the previous records simply didn't.
 
Porter's saxophone features in the trippy opening to The Worm Within  which like most of the tracks features passages of percussion led surrealism that hark back to Nurse's Perez Prado influenced era. What stops this record from quite reaching those heights is the hackneyed use of synth and soundtrack samples to artificially ratchet up the tension; a technique that has unfortunately been the hallmark of Bowers and Stapleton's collaborations. That gripe aside the composition is generally of a far greater standard than many recent Nurse records and the variation in mood and use of light and shade is a big step up. Dancing Tiger revolves around bowed strings, bells and disjointed percussion using piano and metal objects. A sped up version of Homotopy to Marie might be a fair description.
 
Stapleton has always had an acute understanding of the creative use of feedback. French Musique Concrete composer Pierre Henry's Le Voyage composed entirely from closely controlled feedback is an obvious touchstone, and on Excitotoxicity sounds are fed back on themselves and manipulated into fine webs of atmosphere and uncanny ambience. These layers form brief pastoral lulls out of which chaos and squall can dramatically emerge. Broken Symmetry completes the album on an especially addled note mixing together thumping industrial percussion and pre-war sounding brass band music. Again Gallagher's guitar and Stapleton's subtle atmospheres just about hold it together even though it's straining at the seams!
 
The CD comes in a lavishly presented eight panel digipak complete with the customary Stapleton artwork. Not a Nurse classic by any means but certainly one of their most challenging and coherent releases of recent years.

Duncan Simpson

 
     

 

 

Parade ~ Double Vinyl

Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) and Graham Bowers

We have a small number of the standard album for sale

Please note that the Art Edition and Limited Edition are now sold out

 

Album_OuterAlbum_Inner

        

Of Interest? ~ go to shop

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Examples of three of Steven's individual artworks in the special ART EDITION

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Parade ~ CD
A collaboration between Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) and Graham Bowers


The music is an audio sketch-pad, capturing a Commedia dell’Arte type procession of the extremes and banalities of what we are, and what we do, on this bizarre and indefinable one-way trip to oblivion.

A continuous musical track in eight sections:

OFF TO HELL ON A HANDCART
APES AND PEACOCKS
BELLS OF HELL GO TING A'LING A'LING
RING A'RING O'ROSES
A TISSUE OF DECEIT
RATS, CATS AND DOGS
BEYOND THE PALISADE
THE BITTER END

The CD features original artworks by Babs Santini and Graham Bowers, and is available now at the Shop

 

 

Artworks: Babs Santini and Graham Bowers

Read Reviews of Parade

Parade 01
Parade 02
Parade 03
 

Excerpt

OFF TO HELL ON A HANDCART

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APES AND PEACOCKS

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BELLS OF HELL GO TING A'LING A'LING

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RING A'RING O'ROSES

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A TISSUE OF DECEIT

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RATS, CATS AND DOGS

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BEYOND THE PALISADE

Excerpt

THE BITTER END

For details on the double vinyl ~ go to shop

Diploid (Parade ~ Epilogue) ~ CD
A collaboration between Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) and Graham Bowers

A twenty minute composition recalling the salient musical motifs and the final resolution of Parade.

Artworks: Babs Santini

 
Parade 01
Parade 01
 
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Excerpt

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Of Interest? ~ go to shop

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Reviews ~ Parade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brainwashed ~ Magazine

John Kealy ~ 20th October 2013

Nurse With Wound and Graham Bowers, "Parade"/"Diploid (Parade ~ Epilogue)"

 Red Wharf

For their second collaboration, Steven Stapleton and Graham Bowers take the elements that worked so well on Rupture and push them outwards into something more bewildering, but equally as compelling. Pomp, ceremony, showbiz and a cryptic approach to musical arrangements, this is a powerfully odd and oddly powerful work by the duo. As much as I enjoyed Rupture, its heavy subject matter prevents it from being a regular addition to my listening schedule but Parade fills that gap perfectly.

Given the name of the album, it is perhaps no surprise that the music largely has a touch of fanfare and a strong beat to it. Synthesised brass and strings bring to mind The Residents circa Freak Show (their last great one in my opinion) but sound far less rigid. Divided into eight movements, Parade does truly sound like I am surrounded by marching bands. Granted these marching bands are a far cry from the usual mobile orchestras seen at the St. Patrick’s Day parade or at a New Orleans Mardi Gras but the different segments fade in and out like the sound is being made by musicians in transit. The fact that the different segments also tend to be jarringly different is also reminiscent of the parades I would go to as a child; an American high school band followed by traditional Irish musicians followed by dancers dancing to pop music would not have been out of the ordinary. A psychotic brass band followed by frenetic electronic beats followed by eerie noises from the outer dark would not have been normal for sure.


Such otherworldly sounds permeate the album with pieces such as "Apes and Peacocks" and "The Bells of Hell Go Ting A'Ling A'Ling" sounding like they are celebration music from another dimension and one that might or might not be friendly. On "The Bells of Hell…" first appears one of the album’s leading motifs: amidst the clanking industrial rhythms is a scratchy recording of "Thanks for the Memory." The song appears in various stages of decay throughout the rest of the album, its presence mysterious and made all the more strange considering it keeps popping up among a slew of other oldies and showtunes. Only a sizeable chunk of Gilbert and Sullivan’s "I Am the Very Model of Modern Major General" on "Beyond the Palisade" rivals it for playtime.
Yet, Stapleton and Bowers do not rely on the music of others to propel Parade forward. Each section is a dense and intricate layering of different rhythms, melodies (some tonal, some atonal) and typically Nurse-y scrapes and clangs. "A Tissue of Deceit" stands out as being particularly good, combining hammy horror soundtrack with actually unnerving mood all on top of an upbeat but wobbly beat. It manages to be funny, terrifying and catchy all at the same time. It reaches its peak when, about three minutes in, insistent rhythms and a cacophonous range of sounds come together in a trippy climax.

The bonus disc, Diploid, is listed as an epilogue to the main event and with good reason. The single 20 minute piece feels like Parade in redux as the different themes and sounds explored during the album are regurgitated, re-assimilated and reformed into something new. Additions of creepy acoustic guitar and discordant piano add further drama to the sounds, whatever feelings of excitement present in Parade become soured and unwelcoming as if the parade has turned back on itself and was marching into the underworld. It seems almost a crime that this is not part of the standard Parade album because it is a solid way to finish off such a head-scratcher of a release.

 

 
 

Freq ~ Magazine

Michael Rodham-Heaps ~ 8th June 2013

Graham Bowers and Nurse With Wound – Parade/Diploid

 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Wharf

Only listened to this twice so far, but I must say its miles more entertaining than the previous Graham Bowers collaboration Rupture. Gone are the studious symphonics,  favourably replaced by liberating wonky oompha chip-chop that scatters the wares more psychsomatically without labouring any fixed point..

“Off to Hell on a Handcart” (seriously loving these track titles) is stereophonically awry, a slippery mess of Michael Jackson moonwalk on a blancmange pavement of pomposity. An erroneous comedy monkeying around with your cranium like old-fashioned ‘Wound used to, before everything got protracted and drone swept. There’s too much going on, not that I’m complaining, Mr Stapleton and company haven’t been this satisfyingly doodah since The Surveillance Lounge. A welcome return to form me thinks, as my head feels that it’s swimming in too much alcohol and that internal gyro is about to let things fly. The speakers are working the savage twists and huge swells of  bloated Thicke‘n ‘Pharrell over  Floyd‘s “Heart Beat Pig Meat.” Surfing those gooey choirs swallowed in monumental dronic croup and collapsed kola crushes whilst an airborne Mr Bowers spits notation like massive globs of multicoloured chewing tobacco.

The pleasures fly by, three tracks in and you’re suddenly immersed in some mighty fine piano insanity, a nailing techno that’s batshit crazy (I’m listening so loud the windows are quaking). A judder jaggered action sequence shuffled into the back of tomorrow fading on eerie rivers of cooling fat whilst the innards of piano wire play on ill winds. “Ring A’ring O’roses” is full of scribbled discordance, a weird shrill and squeaky gravy. The brass skirting round choral creepers and strange percussive indigestions. Old gramophone flavours coming and going to fluffy organisms on hospital trolley wheels; a feed-Baucus-aba-caustic-bizarre-ness fading to a lone whistling bin man. This should be on the education syllabus, it’s definitely on par with trying to read the other side of Ulysses or the unfathomable Flounder by Mr Grass (easy has never been on my agenda).

I’m really enjoying every single minute of this – as the violins and ominous swell of “A Tissue of Deceit” suddenly whips into a munster dance floor of loose scoops of ’30s crooner, cross wired with panel punching beats  and against the tide operatics. It’s a mess that almost doesn’t work, but it cusps that disgruntled frontier beautifully in mixed metaphors of interchanging texture, bedazzles you in abrupt swindle. The penultimate “Beyond the Palisade” is a curmudgeon of mental hammering to a Gilbert and Sullivan ribcage of BPM xylophonics. Punishing and ludicrous, leading to the worry beaded soundscape of “The Bitter End,” with its harmonic cloisters oozing away  on an orchestrated slow roast to nowhere.

The 20min bonus Diploid is an epilogue to Parade, a slow electroacoustic groping of piano wires and zithery misfirings of notation; a considered vibe that relishes in a restrained chaos blighted in rolling classical touches. Rising horns and twilight caresses. Dark Cage(ean) rumbas and siren calls from beyond, dancing textures between the left and right channels. Swollen beats, cutting off to a rising of rusty hinges and the creakiness of empty swings to a Mozart haze. Classic Nurse territory of scraping and tourniquet tightenings.  Berio floods of insecurity at odds with the jewellery box cuteness, liquifications of insects scuttling all over it  as decaying notes steam off into cul-de-sac(ean) recesses retiring on a piano viscera fade.

FAB-U-LOUS.

 

 

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Rupture
A collaboration between Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) and Graham Bowers

This work is an attempt to create a musical illustration of the ‘goings-on’ in the brain during the last hour and three minutes of a life after suffering a major stroke.

The piece is multi-layered and is primarily concerned with the internal chaos caused by the loss of control of thought processes, responses and consequential actions, with all types of incoherent disjointed memories and present real time events – as well as moments of lucidity, panic and fear – clashing, merging and evolving.

When the complexity of the human brain’s retained information and the inherent properties which constitute a‘life’, an ‘individual’, a ‘person’, are catastrophically damaged after blood – ‘life’s fuel’ – ruptures the previously organised and essential control centres, absolute mayhem follows.
The cold, hard indisputable truth, and one that we all have no alternative but to accept, is that:
“… a life as it now is, is not what it was, and never will be again”.

 
Artworks: Babs Santini and Graham Bowers
 
Rupture ~ Front cover
Rupture ~ Front cover
Rupture ~ Front cover
Rupture ~ Front cover
Rupture ~ Front cover
Rupture ~ Front cover

Excerpt

CD ~ " ... a life as it now is,"   Vinyl ~ Disk One

Excerpt

CD ~ " ... is not what it was,"   Vinyl ~ Disk Two

Excerpt

CD ~ " ... and never will be again,"   Vinyl ~ Disk Four

Of Interest? ~ go to shop

 

Reviews ~ Rupture

Brainwashed Magazine

John Kealy ~ 29 January 2012
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This "musical illustration" of the events occurring in the brain following a lethal stroke is a dramatic, chilling and emotional portrait. Musically, it is removed from anything else Nurse With Wound have done (even if it does touch on similar influences as the rest of Steve Stapleton’s body of work) as Bowers adds a more composerly hand to Stapleton’s surrealist drift. Bowers and Stapleton have crafted something unique that does not fit neatly into any categories, even amongst Nurse With Wound’s expanded horizons. This is draining, devastating and utterly compelling.

Bowers’ work in the medical field designing environmentally controlled rooms for operating theatres and medical imaging suites has added tremendously to the power of the piece. Listening to this from two different perspectives, firstly from that of an enthusiastic experimental music listener and secondly from my professional perspective as a neuroscientist reveals an impressive and moving synthesis of art, science and pathos. Concepts such as memory and disinhibition of neural networks are played out in the music; a warped sample of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the sound of children’s voices appear to represent the resurgence of memories in the minutes before death (possibly due to metabolic disturbances within the temporal lobes of the brain). The disrupted electrophysiological rhythms of the brain are represented in the discordant and tumultuous rhythms of Bowers’ playing.

Towards the end of the album, various permutations of "My Blue Heaven" are played, gasped and hinted at. The protagonist/patient/spirit promises to see loved ones (whether living or dead, we are unsure) in their blue heaven. The effect is moving and unsettling, my own memories at the loss of loved ones (albeit not from a stroke) emerging in the fabric of the music. While I have always found Nurse With Wound’s music to be enthralling on a number of levels, this is the first time I have ever felt Stapleton’s music to connect in such a powerfully emotional way. I have been frightened, entertained, humoured and provoked but never have I felt grief.

The weight of Rupture is crushing; this is not music to turn on, sit back and relax to. It is intrusive, captivating and mentally exhausting. Each time I listen to the album, I feel like another little part of me has changed. Aptly, the titles of the segments sum up not only the medical and physiological implications of a stroke but my feelings as a listener following this work: "A life as it now is, is not what it was, and will never be again."

 
     
 

Freq ~ Magazine

Linus Tossio ~ 1st January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweeping in on modernist orchestrations, Rupture is a very different kind of Nurse With Wound collaboration, though there is plenty which harks back to Steve Stapleton‘s tape-loop manipulations of orchestral music both in Nursey guise and with Current 93‘s earlier harshly overbearing recordings in the pre-Apocalyptic Folk days. Here there is an explicit theme hinted at in the title, as the ensemble attempt to envisage musically what it might feel like to undergo a severe brain embolism – and who better for sculptor and composer Graham Bowers to work with on such a project than Messrs. Stapleton, Liles, Waldron and Potter?

Wall of sound doesn’t begin to adequately describe the onslaught they unleash together; once the first few gentle tones of part one’s calm before the rupture (“… a life as it now is,”) have been dispensed with, there’s no stopping the sounds layering and slathering over each other in an incrementing palimpsest of composed, found, cut, pasted and thoroughly mashed up sources, from bombastic kettledrums and braying horn sections to the crooning sounds of yore, flummoxed and banjaxed together. Part two (“…is not what it was,”) is marked by the sudden drop from rubbery throbs and a slowing of the heartbeat pulse as what sounds like a terribly unprepared piano is given a strum, plonk and surging snippy surgery as the cackling, pounding blood music flows lopsidedly, seemingly up, down and round the hill with an increasingly demented air as a marching band engorges itself Ourobouros-style inside the victim’s head.

The religiose cacophony of the likes of C93′s Dog’s Blood Rising and Bowers’ own compositional method (which he terms sound theatre) bubbles up through the mire on synthetic strings and sampled roadworks, a symphony of multimedia detritus emergent as the brain begins to recurse upon itself, then shatter under the strain of catastrophic failure. The stumbling, slurred incoherence of a stroke sufferer comes via the poor abused piano once again and shivery strands of synthesis, smeared and traumatised by tape manipulations in the throes of Modernist spasms and bilious chorales.

There are repeated visitations to rhythmic devices – clocks, pulsing arteries, bright shards of painful sound stabbing straight for the inner ear, bowel-churning rumbles of the corpus under stress and strain – whose recurrence builds into a narrative of dissolution, of inevitable consequences of the blockage of blood flow to the brain. Part three (“…and will never be again”) brings medical emergency sounds in as the patient stabilises, the whirr and heave of assisted breathing phasing in and out of audibility with the immanence of those pearly gates and white-lit voids chiming at the brink. The thrum, crunch and crashes of the orchestral heaves take up the strain, the musical body undergoing its own catharsis as the voices return. Indistinct and unquiet, their speech is hesitant, their laughter hollow and the moans chorused to a fragmentary swing coda, jazz mired in a soup of dissonant brazen memories as the words decay to nullity.

A dizzying descent into malfunction on the most personal of levels, Rupture marks a return to gelatinous surrealistic pillow music from NWW in one of those fortuitous collaborations which was just waiting for the right circumstances to happen.

 
     
 

a closer listen ~ Magazine

Richard Allen ~ 26th January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One hour, three minutes and thirty seconds of death: that’s one way to describe Rupture, and in this case, the description is literal. This concept album seeks to “create a musical illustration” of the dying brain following a stroke; and damn, is it powerful.  The brain is a miraculous storage facility, but following a stroke, all of the neurons get jumbled.  The ensuing hodgepodge of memory and fantasy, important and inconsequential is fearsome and wondrous all at once.  So much packed into electrical impulses!  So much beauty, so much despair!  All of these conflicting thoughts and feelings are present in Rupture, an album composed in a tightly controlled fashion, yet ironically reflective of chaos.

Shy strings and sullen brass introduce the stroke: bursts of color like tiny stars exploding in the brain.  A series of drum rolls leads to an ominous passageway.  From whence do these incoherent voices stem?  Are their chants sinister or benign?  (To quote Jacob’s Ladder, “if you’re frightened of dying, and you’re holding on, you’ll see demons tearing your life away”.)  Is there a message embedded in their code?  And what of the radio transmission that follows?  Is it a memory, a phantasm, a TV show?  Who will sort these things out?  Why do sense not?  Who in, as wonder?  Feel.  Truth, is!  Is!
Why does the phone keep ringing?  Who am I?  At this point, the questions are moot.  As outsiders, we know what’s happening.  We know that the heartbeat is fading, that the systems are dying, that the snatches of radio, the choirs and laughter, the children singing “Happy birthday”, are all part of a larger scheme: a life.  The auditory dredge is in full effect, but scrambled.  Notes begin to warp as if passing through wormholes.  And yet, for brief moments, everything makes sense.  The mind is back in the presence of the indelible: a playground, an orchestra, a Latin mass.  Yet as the blood vessels grow desperate for oxygen, all coherence fades.  The sensical crumbles into the void.  A clock stops and restarts.  One yearns to comfort one who by nature cannot be comforted, can no longer recognize comfort, can only recognize that there is no more recognition – and soon even that will be lost.

In its final moments, the composition achieves the triumph of not-knowing, a victory that mirrors its subject.  How faithful a reflection this may be has yet to be determined; one can only hope that some time passes before such mysteries are revealed.  But the album sounds as we imagine one’s dying, stroke-ridden brain might sound, and therein lies its sad and savage triumph.  
 
     
 

Piccadilly Records ~ Record Store Day 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Due to popular demand this work is now available as a very limited double vinyl LP in a special edition for Record Store day 2012.

It's the first collaboration of Steven Stapleton's Nurse With Wound and composer/sculptor Graham Bowers. It is, without doubt, one of the best things we have ever released. It's an extremely unnerving, but also hauntingly moving listening experience. The work is an attempt to create a musical illustration of the "goings-on" in the brain during the last hour and three minutes of a life after suffering a major stroke. It is multi-layered and is primarily concerned with the internal chaos caused by the loss of control of thought processes, responses and consequential actions, with all types of incoherent disjointed memories and present real time events - as well as moments of lucidity, panic and fear - clashing, merging and evolving.

It's essentially one long piece, but is presented here over 4 sides of finest quality 150 gm virgin vinyl. . "...a life as it now is,. ...is not what it was, ...and will never be again" The records have been expertly mastered for vinyl and cut by Noel Summerville at 3345 Mastering, who's 30 + years of experience of cutting vinyl speak for themselves. It arrives packaged in a beautiful gloss laminated gatefold sleeve, featuring artwork from both Babs Santini and Graham Bowers and a full colour insert. At the artists' request, it is limited to just 500 copies.

250 copies of these have been created for Record Store Day. This edition will additionally contain an extra insert, each one being a unique hand created piece of art, mounted on black fine art paper and individually signed and numbered by Steven and Graham.