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Homotopy to Marie

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Album Review

Though Homotopy To Marie is the fifth album by Nurse with Wound, Steve Stapleton has said that he considers it the band's true debut because it's the first one he created by himself. Slowly created over the course of a full year's worth of studio sessions (Stapleton having booked one six-hour block per week for 52 weeks), Homotopy To Marie is no less unnerving and experimental than Nurse with Wound's previous albums, but it's far less chaotic. Stapleton created the album's five songs (four on the original LP; the 12-minute "Astral Dustbin Dirge," recorded during these sessions, was added to the CD editions) almost entirely through tape manipulation, artfully editing miles of audio tape into these lengthy dada-esque soundscapes. It may be more elegantly constructed, but it's just as difficult to penetrate. The opening track "I Cannot Feel You as the Dogs Are Laughing and I Am Blind" opens with a lengthy solo for random metal clanking that sounds like a drawer full of silverware being stirred with an axe handle and then fades into near-total silence for several minutes until a processed vocal wail wanders in, leading to an unexpected noise-burst climax that causes listeners to jump even when they know it's coming. The title track ("homotopy" is a mathematical term for the morphing of one two-dimensional shape into another, incidentally) consists of little more than gong crashes with occasional interjections of whispered voices, atonal violin-like creaks and other small and inexplicable noises. "Astral Dustbin Dirge" lulls the listener into complacency with a lengthy prologue of sounds resembling tape-manipulated whale song before a brief burst of cries and alarms then settles into possibly the most minimalist near-silence of the entire album. The 25-minute epic "The Schmurz (Unsullied by Sucking)" slowly builds into a symphony of feedback and electronic tones alternately droning at irritating frequencies and imitating natural sounds like woodpeckers and rainfall, like a more pastoral version of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. After that, the barely 90-second "The Tumultuous Upsurge of Lasting Hatred," a snatch of tape rendered near inaudible followed by several seconds of pure silence, sounds like a lullaby in comparison. While hardly accessible, Homotopy To Marie is at least generally comprehensible in its structures and sounds, and as such one of the most popular starting points in the Nurse With Wound catalogue. [The United Dairies CD reissue of 2008 fixes an indexing error made in the original early 1990s CD release, where the last three minutes or so of track one were inadvertently added to the start of track two.]


Formed: 1978 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A loose experimental project formed in 1978 by Steven Stapleton, Nurse with Wound explored abstract music -- influenced by Krautrock, freewheeling jazz improvisation, and Throbbing Gristle but including a heavy debt to surrealists Dali and Lautréamont -- with an overpowering release schedule of limited-edition albums and EPs. Stapleton worked with an ever-changing list of collaborators during the early years of Nurse with Wound, though Current 93's David Tibet was the only frequent recording companion...
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Homotopy to Marie, Nurse With Wound
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