This curious quintet makes sounds that recall the glory days of Nurse With Wound: long, shapeshifting collages of psychedelic murk interrupted by random outbursts of industrial clatter, nightmarish drones, deeply bizarre audio mutations and tangible masses of sticky audio goop of impossibly vague origin. The Sleeping Moustache consists of five ten-minute tracks interspersed with five brief interstitial tracks. Everything blends together well because nothing blends together well; forced juxtapositions and jarring eclecticism are par for the course, just like the finest NWW of yore.
At its inception, Nurse With Wound was a group, not a solo project. However, for the last 25 years or so, even with the large cast of collaborators and producers that have worked on NWW records, it has seemed like the sole autocratic creative domain of Steven Stapleton, lone surrealist wolf. That's why its odd to see Stapleton involved in so much group activity lately, with active memberships in ensembles such as Scribble Seven (with Maja Elliott, Joolie Wood, Freida Abtan, Colin Potter, Andrew Liles and Matt Waldron), the Wounded Nurse Ensemble/Salt Marie Celeste live group (with Diana Rogerson, Potter, Liles and Waldron), and now The Sleeping Moustache.
The Sleeping Moustache is an adventurous fivesome consisting of Steven Stapleton, Jim Haynes of Coelecanth, Matt Waldron and R.K. Faulhaber of irr.app.(ext.), and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson of Icelandic experimental group Stilluppsteypa. There is no clue given as to who does what on which track, and in fact the album's packaging consists only of five primitive, apparently hand-stamped brown paper slips, each listing the five members of the group in a different order. In the background are fragments of Dada-esque typeset dialogue: "Please sirs, could you help me onto the railings so I might leap to my death into the waters?" or "This malign energy issued forth unchecked, saturating the intimate and the mundane alike to twist the innocent contents of our lives into shapes of vivid, indescribable horror." Each slip is backed with a small print by the artist listed on top. Because of the lack of practical information given about the project, the sounds on this CD emerge as even more esoteric and inscrutable than they would have anyway, and it would be impossible to untangle each artist's contribution. The only entity that can be held responsible for this album, then, is The Sleeping Moustache.
The mind-blowing quality of production is a consistent thread running through this cracked, chaotic journey across unspeakably weird audio realms, remaining vivid and thoroughly fucked for the duration of the album. The album plays like an abstract radio drama in which the narrative could never be turned back into sensible language. Chilling drones and stereo-phased plinks and plonks stretch and dilate while tiny flesh-eating robots force a freight train backwards through a rift in spacetime. Squeaking door hinges and creaking wood stairs slowly sink into a burbling peat bog at midnight, while a gas-fueled generator floods the scene with obscene fluorescent lights. Outmoded machinery and monstrous disembodied spirits battle for supremacy against a backdrop of cosmically generated keyboard drones, which shudder and pulsate as they fester into glowing red sores that blasphemously belch and vent thick steam into the pipes of a church organ. Heavily delayed voices utter foreign gobbledygook which bounces between the stereo channels, farting beings of pure static who cannibalistically consume each other inside telephone wires. Damp, evacuated warehouses serve as the setting for strange and awful ceremonies involving tesla coils, rusty steel beams and quivering electrified gelatin fingers slowly caressing articulated marionettes enacting their own doom. Suffice to say, fans of classic Nurse With Wound will rejoice at The Sleeping Moustache. It's a thoroughly enjoyable resurrection of the sort of classic 1980s audio. - Jonathan Dean