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Strain, Crack & Break Vol. 2: Music from the The Nurse With Wound List (Germany)

Finders Keepers returns with the second instalment of their collaboration with Steven Stapleton, "Strain Crack & Break Volume 2", diving into incredible obscurities from his legendary NNW list from 1979. Where "Volume One" explored works by artists from France, this time Stapleton culls choice tracks from the wilder reaches of Germany during the 1970s, gathering a vast range of material that spans outright experimentalism, free jazz, stoner psych, hypnotic prog, and so much more, all of which laid the groundwork for Nurse With Wound's pioneering sound. Easily among the best compilations to drop this year and as visionary in its compiling as it is in its contents, this one is going to blow minds.

Back in 2019, Finders Keepers took a deep dive into Steven Stapleton’s legendary Nurse With Wound list, issuing the stunning double LP collection Strain, Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume 1. It became one of the most widely celebrated releases of that year, gathering rare tracks by more than a dozen artists from France who had inspired NNW to become the singular project that it is. The label now returns with its second instalment of the series, Strain, Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume 2, this time immersing themselves in the adjacent sonic reality that grew within Germany during the 1970s. Compiled by Stapleton from his original list and spanning a full 2 LPs of killer tracks by visionary artists like Wolfgang Dauner, Exmagma, Fritz Müller, Brainstorm, and Tomorrow's Gift, it’s a mind-blowing excursion the likes of which are rarely heard.

Included within Nurse With Wound’s first LP, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella, issued 1979, the NNW list has held a heralded place in the landscape of recorded music ever since. Comprised of 291 album nods by the band to crucial, but elusive keys to their sound that had been discovered by Steven Stapleton, Heman Pathak and John Fothergill during years of digging across Europe, it stands among the most important vehicles for underground musical discovery from the second half of the 20th Century, laying the groundwork for similar lists by Julian Cope, Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke, and Alan Licht, across the decades to come.

The NNW list has a reputation for never disappointing. For more than four decades, its contents have pushed fans beyond their comfort zones, with each of its albums gaining cult status to rival that of the list itself. Building on the ground covered by the French material contained within the first instalment of Strain, Crack & Break, Finders Keepers and Steven Stapleton have taken the logical step for the second instalment of the series, moving into the world of wild and wonderful sounds from Germany on the NNW list. Following the band’s original mission, it delves far off the beaten path, unveiling the truly visionary, experimental, and obscure.

Comprising 12 tracks by as many artists, Strain Crack & Break Volume 2 covers a remarkable amount of ground across its two sides - disassembled free jazz, dirty stoner psych, hypnotic prog, and deranged funk and fuzz, all the while sidestepping the canonized understanding of what transpired musically within Germany during the 1970s. Ranging from the free-form, chaotic experimentalism of Association P.C., Wolfgang Dauner, and Anima-Sound (who reputedly played their instruments completely naked throughout their career), to the heavy tones of bands like My Solid Ground, Exmagma, Tomorrow's Gift, and Out Of Focus, not to mention the warped marching band sounds of Fritz Müller and so much more, it’s a mind-bending journey into the radical depths of truly independent forms of sonic creativity, making us wonder how so much of this material has remained relatively unknown across the 40+ years since Stapleton drafted his list.

Easily among the best compilations to drop this year and as visionary in its compiling as it is in its contents, Strain, Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume 2 proves, across its 4 astonishing sides, the true, generous spirit of The Nurse With Wound and how much there is still left to discover on the original list. Packed in a heavy carved gatefold sleeve and pressed on heavy weight vinyl, it’s the seed for many love affairs to come that leaves dying to know what Finders Keepers and Stapleton are going to drop next.