Published Mar 18, 2014The long-running and infamous project known as Nurse With Wound — essentially Steven Stapleton joined by a rotating cast of characters — mixes the overly serious chin-scratching of the contemporary avant-garde with a healthy dose of absurdist humour and wit. Often unfortunately branded with the 'industrial' tag, Stapleton's music actually reflects elements of musique concrète, ambient and free improvisation juxtaposed against more traditional forms. No one pigeonhole can adequately describe this diverse and immense catalogue: only by diving in can one truly appreciate the varied sonic possibilities of Stapleton's unfettered imagination. He's that weird, and he's that good.
In the mid 1980s, Nurse With Wound existed as a live band for only eight shows, of which only five were in front of an actual audience. Live at Bar Maldoror, released in 1991, documents these various live incarnations and makes up the first CD of this two-disc set. Having been remastered by Andrew Liles, the diverse and lengthy pieces (which were actually recorded in disparate locales, none of which are named Bar Maldoror) sound rather contemporary. Sparse percussion, tape manipulation, loops, noise, dark drones, improvised semi-musical instrumentation and strangled glossolalia all expose the many facets of Stapleton's oeuvre.
An entire live set recorded in Beglium in 2007 has been captured on the second disc, which somehow manages to be more musical in nature (check out the funky full-band breakdown on "Two Shaves / Putrefication and Infection") while at the same time sounding far more dark than the preceding batch of tunes. Once again, it's these two opposing forces — the traditional and the insane — that set Stapleton's music apart from pretty much anything else. For those sitting on the sidelines, Bar Maldoror will make a perfect port of entry into the bizarre framework of Nurse With Wound. (United Jnana)