Nurse With Wound - Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
Steven Stapleton's Nurse With Wound is a most curious act, existing as a solo project since 1981 he has done a lot of work in the experimental music scene over the years, worked with a tonne of notable artists and is often seeing as a pioneer of the industrial music genre. Before that though Nurse With Wound had been around since 1978 in a band incarnation with two other guys named John Fothergill and Heman Pathak, and released what has been considered one of the weirdest albums of all time in 1979, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
The story behind this album sounds too far fetched to be true, coming about when Stapleton was working as a signwriter in London in 1978. Meeting engineer Nick Rogers, who expressed disdain with the boring advertising and voice-over work he was used to the man somehow expressed to Stapleton a desire to work with experimental, avant-garde musicians. Stapleton claimed he had a band and arranged a studio date, which was actually a complete lie resulting in him promptly called two mates out of the blue, and telling them to get an instrument of an sort so they could hurriedly put something together. So with this Nurse With Wound was born, with Stapleton on percussion, Fothergill on guitar and Pathak on organ. They hit the studio and completed the entire album in 6 hours, using some of Rogers guitar playing and some instruments sitting around the studio for a little bit of extra spice. Allegedly edited from improvisations with some overdubbing, after Stapleton designed the albums sleeve using an old pornographic magazine Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
was ready for public consumption.
Or maybe not. It is said that defunct UK music magazine Sounds summed up their response by abandoning their usual star rating system to award the album a full 5 question marks (?????), and upon listening to Chance
for the first time it is perfectly understandable what kind of reaction the music listening public would have had to NWW back in 1979. Probably inspired by the experimental sounds of Krautrock and the like Stapleton's ideas wouldn't have been a complete anomaly, but not everybody would have been exposed to this kind of music yet either. The most striking thing about the album is this (depending on your perspective of course): it totally works.
There are three lengthy tracks, incrementing in roughly double the length as they progress. Two Mock Projections
is 6:21 in length, The Six Buttons of Sex Appeal
is 13:13, and Blank Capsules of Embroidered Cellophane
is 28.20. Each is very difficult to describe, reaching somewhere as a blend between chaotic noise, drone and ambient and free improvisation of lots of differents textures and percussion elements. It sounds like an awfully random mess, and believe me it is. But it becomes evident Chance
elevates itself beyond some random mix session any kid can make on a laptop nowadays through the sheer fascination of finding hypnotic patterns to latch on to. This album will take you on a ride like no other, that is for certain.
Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
is a wildly experimental musical work in its purest form, made in its entirety during a feverish 6 hour studio session by a guy who didn't have a band who lied to get there. It has gone on to have some notoriety over the years as a love it or hate it sort of affair but for my money with its complete lack of pre-meditated, calculated ideas there is one thing you cannot deny: it is certainly different. Genius... or crap? You decide.