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Music / Nurse with Wound

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Nurse with Wound (Real name: Steven Stapleton) is an experimentalist musician who has been actively recording since 1979. The band originally included Heman Pathak and John Fothergill, though Pathak left within a few months to work with David Vorhaus of White Noise, while Fothergill eventually fell out with Stapleton a few months after that. From the third album, 1980's Merzbild Schwet onward, Stapleton has helmed Nurse with Wound himself, bringing on a variety of collaborators to create post-industrial music, steeped heavily in musique concrète and dadaism.

Tropes present in his works include:

  • Broken Record: Rockette Morton Part One in the A Sucked Orange compilation, which consists of a short eponymous namedrop sampled from Trout Mask Replica repeated and phased over the course of four minutes and twelve seconds. Rockette Morton Part exactly the same for another three minutes and eleven seconds.
  • Careful with That Axe: Several of the disembodied female voices.
  • Concept Album: Several of them center around a single thematic idea.
    • Thunder Perfect Mind is a conceptual work that sits as a contrast to Current 93's album of the same name.
    • Rock'n Roll Station was made after a chance meeting between Stapleton and several of his inspirations.
    • Angry Eelectric Finger was a bunch of raw drone material that he handed to three friends to re-interpret.
    • Huffin' Rag Blues is an homage to post-wartime American lounge and jazz music.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: NWW album covers are usually hyperactive collages of magazines and original drawings or paintings by Stapleton himself. Many are credited to his design alter-ego, Babs Santini.
  • Drone of Dread: Present in a lot of his later work.
  • Everything Is an Instrument/Bizarre Instrument: Even back in the early days of tape manipulation, people were scratching their heads over how certain pieces were made.
    • Soliloquy for Lilith was created by what was most likely a faulty setup—he'd wired up a no-input feedback loop consisting of various effects pedals, then found out mid-session that he could play this rig like a theremin. He wasn't able to duplicate the setup again, and the liner notes thank "electricity" as it was probably a faulty electrical connection somewhere that allowed the album to be made at all.
  • Fake Guest Star: David Tibet, Colin Potter and others, simply because they show up (sometimes uncredited) many times throughout Stapleton's discography.
  • Last Note Nightmare: This trope appears often, even in already frightening works.
  • Leitmotif: Shows up in a sizable portion of his output, as Stapleton samples his own work frequently.
  • Long Runner: Stapleton has never stopped releasing music since 1979, releasing at least two works per year.
  • Mind Screw: A record popping noise was deliberately placed at the opening of the song "Futurismo" to screw with everyone who originally bought the album in 1980.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Soliloquy for Lilith surprised many by featuring six sides of vinyl worth of dark ambient drones instead of the usual musique concrète.
    • Rock'n Roll Station featured a marked interest in minimal hip hop beats.
    • An Awkward Pause made several nods to progressive rock, including a ten-minute actual rock song.
    • Huffin' Rag Blues centered around lounge music and even featured Stapleton's friends imitating blues and jazz vocalists.
  • Piss-Take Rap: David Tibet, of all people, delivers one on "Two Shaves and a Shine".
  • Punny Name: "You Walrus Hurt the One You Love" and "Great Balls of Fur" from The Sylvie and Babs Hi-Fi Companion are just two examples.
  • Rearrange the Song: Stapleton has a habit of resampling and re-arranging his work so often that what sounds like the same song can get released several times over a few years.
    • "Nylon Coverin' Body Smotherin'" and "Brained by falling masonry" are nearly identical and came out within months of each other.
    • "Registered Nurse" was re-arranged and re-released as "Registered Nurse (Second Coming)." Ditto with "Automating" and "Automating (again)".
    • "A short dip in the glory hole", "Brained"'s b-side, has seen a few edits.
    • The songs from Gyllensköld, Geijerstam, and I at Rydbergs were re-arranged for inclusion on Large Ladies with Cake in the Oven.
    • A Sucked Orange and Scrag were assembled from the same source tapes. Several pieces appear in both but are blended in a different way on each one.
    • Thunder Perfect Mind consists of two songs. "Cold" was re-edited several times, including for a single release as "Steel Dream March of the Metal Men". The beat midway through "Colder Still" resurfaced many times, including "Two Golden Microphones" from Rock'n Roll Station and half of the album Who Can I Turn to Stereo, amongst other places. Both songs appear in snippets throughout Rat Tapes One.
    • "Salt" gained additional samples of machinery and talking to become "Salt Marie Celeste". The piece would later be blended with Echo Poeme to become "Soundpooling #3".
    • Four whole albums revolved around the concept: Angry Eelectric Finger was issued in a "Raw Mix" form alongside three re-interpretations by friends of Stapleton: Jim O'Rourke, Cyclobe and irr. app. (ext.) Surprisingly, O'Rourke and irr. app.(ext.)'s versions sounded eerily similar, despite not hearing each other's work until they were finalized. The source material itself had similarities to "Salt".
    • Most songs that appear on compilation discs are rough versions of whatever Stapleton was working on at the time. The finished versions usually end up on his albums.
    • A few pieces were edited from their transition from vinyl to cassette to CD over the years. The cassette version of "Great Balls of Fur", for example, contained an intro sampling a Johnson's Baby Lotion ad which didn't make it to vinyl or later CD pressings of the album it was from.
  • Sampling: A good chunk of Nurse with Wound's work in the 80s and 90s involved re-sampling himself a lot. He also sampled a few things for its dadaist qualities, such as Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" finding its way into "It Just Ain't So/In Heaven"; and a chunk of surf rock guitar showing up out of nowhere during "Two Golden Microphones".
  • Spoken Word in Music: If it's not sampled from a conversation, it will be someone reading text, such as "The Examination" by Harold Pinter appearing in "I Was No Longer His Dominant." Sometimes, the words are made-up wholesale:
    David Tibet: Melons with foul goats. Steve, I want that as a Nurse with Wound title, I think that's brilliant.