For almost forty years Steven Stapleton and friends have been sculpting dramatic dream worlds for our exploration and delectation. On the eve of headlining this weekend’s Tusk Festival in Newcastle, UK, we take a quick ride through the stellar Stapleton system to skim the surface of ten of Nurse With World’s key releases.THE QUIETUS – Russell Cuzner, October 11th, 2017
If Surrealism’s aim, as art historian Briony Fer put it, is “to reveal the unconscious… and to undo prevalent conceptions of order and reality,” I can think of no other artist than Nurse With Wound who has most successfully transposed the wayward visual art movement into sound. While there are countless recording artists intent on weirdness or aiming for the contrary, very few reach the visionary heights of Steven Stapleton in imposing full-scale oneiric fictions on our waking psyche. Nurse With Wound’s output and methodology wilfully ignores perceived wisdom. Instead, it opts to experiment, to err and be done, as if mining the moment for its hidden channels, to discover pathways that stimulate hitherto unexplored areas of our subconscious.
At the foundations of this strange sound world is a potent trinity: a brimming passion for record collecting, an openness to all sounds and an unbound capacity for invention.
Talking to David Keenan in The Wire in 1997 he explained how he had been fascinated by noises in his youth while in hospital, with nothing better to do than get immersed in its ambience: “You’re lying in bed at night and you’re looking up a darkened hall and there’s the matron sitting there with her light and you can hear her pen scraping, you can hear creaks coming from the beds, patients turning over, beds rattling a bit, someone dropping a utensil ten wards down. The echo, the bare walls…”. Darkness, scrapes, creaks, rattles and echo (as well as a nurse, of course) would all play significant, reprising roles in Stapleton’s compositions… [+]