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An Awkward Pause

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Album Review

Originally issued in 1999 and out of print for most of the 21st century, Durtro/Jnana has re-released Nurse with Wound's An Awkward Pause in a specially designed six-panel digipack sleeve as a double-disc edition. Musically, this is among NwW's most accessible recordings. Head Nurse Steve Stapleton's partners in mischief for this set include David Tibet (of course), Colin Potter, Peat Bog, Christoph Heeman, and others. The sense of humor and perversity so wondrously reflected in so many of NwW's albums is certainly here, in the titles as well as in the music — "The Penis Fruit Loop," and "Mummer's Little Weeper" are the most obvious examples, linguistically at least. The centerpiece of this set is the funky garage number "Two Shaves and a Shine (Concerto for Bouzouki and 3 Piece Rock Group in 93 Second Segments)." A gritty funk bass groove, all hypnotic and slithery, is in the pocket and holds the thing on the ground while all manner of bouzouki, electric guitars and breaks wander and flit every which way. Clocking in at nearly ten minutes, it kicks ass all across the board. Stapleton's been accused of being too much of an effete, but cuts like this prove he can rock and funk with the best of them. The man knows how to strap on his six string and get it across whenever necessary. "Penis Fruit Loop" slows things down and is an abstract sound collage piece. It meanders, all Dadaist and persnickety for nearly half-an-hour, taking the listener through all sorts of changes without ever completely engaging in self-indulgence. "Lunar Cement Sidewalk" is full of low-end warble and whump, while "Mummer's Little Weeper," which closes the disc is a trance-like, psychedelic timepiece that carries on its five-minutes-and-forty-four seconds of madness with dub effects and rhythms and a general sly insanity. The bonus disc included here is really just that. There are three different mixes of "Mummer's Little Weeper," an alternate of "Penis Fruit Loop," and three of "Two Shaves and a Shine" — one of which allows the listener to become a mixologist and create their own mix from the various components. There are also numbers of loose tracks, like the three parts of "Disposition" and four parts of "Intravenous." In all, there is over an hour of music and madness — a little mayhem, too — but it's all full of a zealot's creativity and comes off as snickering fun from the rather maddeningly brilliant musical brain of Stapleton and his collaborators. One of NwW's best to be sure.


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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An Awkward Pause, Nurse With Wound
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