Nurse With Wound - The Devil's Interval
Sprawling across more than four decades of activity, few musical endeavours have been as influential and uncategorizable as Nurse With Wound. Founded as a trio in 1978 by Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill, and Heman Pathak, by the early '80s the band morphed into a solo vehicle for Stapleton’s maverick and creative mind, remaining so over the decades since, over the length of which it has produced a vast body of work that comprises well over a hundred full lengths and EPs. During recent years, the reissue market has taken great lengths toward making many of NNWs historical releases, the majority of which were produced in tiny, now virtually unobtainable editions, available again. Now, taking a slightly different approach, Vasopressin, the Milan based artistic and cultural platform run by Matteo Moschettoni, dives into the more contemporary output of the project with “The Devil's Interval (Alienation)”, the first ever vinyl pressing of two important works from the relatively recent past, “The Devil's Interval (Alienation)”, recorded in 2017, and “To Another Awareness”, from 2018, both originally issued as limited edition 3” CDs with accompanying texts. Illuminating Nurse With Wound’s more atmospheric and conceptual explorations, this beautiful LP is the first vinyl production by Vasopressin - effectively launching a new era in their activities - and is released in two editions, 340 copies on black vinyl and 60 on clear vinyl - in a fully printed cover with artwork by Steven Stapleton, housed in a printed PVC sleeve, with 12" insert. Absolutely essential for any fan of Nurse With Wound, experimental and industrial music, and bristling atmospheric sound.
Nurse with Wound was easily one of the most singular projects to emerge during the late '70s in Britain; a moment that witnessed the ashes of punk’s first-generation morph into radical new forms, often embracing the strategies of experimental music. Rooted in a surrealist ethos, while constantly pushing forward across a vast range of creative territory, the project utilized the approaches and attitudes of the avant-garde, in new forms of music that incorporates a countless number of influences that crossed their paths; cabaret, nursery rhymes, pop music, and krautrock, not to mention the wild and wonderful touchstones that made it onto the legendary NNW list.
In its original incarnation of Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill, and Heman Pathak, Nurse with Wound only made two albums, 1979’s “Chance Meeting On a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella”, and 1980’s “To the Quiet Men from a Tiny Girl”. In the aftermath, it became effectively a solo project for Stapleton, within which he allowed himself a remarkable amount of creative freedom and breadth, while involving the collaboration of numerous ambitious fellow travelers in his various sonorous explorations. One such case is the work “The Devil's Interval (Alienation)”, which incorporates the vocals of the Rwandan composer, singer, and performer Aurélie Lierman, and now makes up the first side of Vasopressin’s LP of the same name.
“The Devil's Interval (Alienation)” was created and recorded in 2017 during one of Nurse With Wound’s sleep concerts - long form events instigated by Steven Stapleton, within which he inter-splices elements of the project’s back catalog while audience enters a restful state - at Burren College of Art, Ireland. Originally issued in 2020 on a 3” CD that accompanied a 50-page book by Octave Mirbeau published by the French imprint, Lenka lente, this is the first time the work has appeared on vinyl or been available as a stand-alone work of audio. Remarkably minimal, the outcome stands among the most subtle and atmospheric of all the many works produced by Nurse With Wound. For roughly half of the work Stapleton spins immersive resonances from gong-like tonalities, weaving in Aurélie Lierman’s extended technique vocalizations, before pushing the piece into the other realms with a series of lower harmonic drones and the bristling textures of electronics.
The album’s second side, comprising the work “To Another Awareness”, recorded in 2018 to accompany a new publication of Antonin Artaud's book, “Ci-Gît”, works as a perfect counterpoint to the first, drawing on a similar palette of sonorities. Pushing further into explicit territories of noise-based experimentalism, across the piece’s duration Stapleton cultivates an immersion into otherworldly realms that makes subtle nods to mid-20th Century electronic and electroacoustic works, while pushing toward new notions of maximalism, achieved through the most minimal and constrained means.
Riding a fascinating line between industrial, ambient, and noise musics that blurs the borders between the soundtrack and situationally specific performance, the two works that gather across the length of “The Devil's Interval (Alienation)” offer a brilliant and captivating image of Nurse With Wound and Steven Stapleton remarkable, recent sonic excursions, proving how relevant and forward thinking both remain after decades of activity. Vasopressin’s beautiful LP is more than needed, drawing both “To Another Awareness” and “The Devil's Interval (Alienation)” back into the light.
Issued in two very limited editions - 340 copies on black vinyl and 60 on clear vinyl - in a fully printed cover with artwork by Steven Stapleton, housed in a printed PVC sleeve, with 12" insert, this one is not to be missed by any fan of Nurse With Wound, electronic, experimental and industrial music. It’s just about as good as NWW’s output gets.