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Nurse With Wound & Graham Bowers – Rupture

United Dirter

Sweeping in on modernist orchestrations, Rupture is a very different kind of Nurse With Wound collaboration, though there is plenty which harks back to Steve Stapleton‘s tape-loop manipulations of orchestral music both in Nursey guise and with Current 93‘s earlier harshly overbearing recordings in the pre-Apocalyptic Folk days. Here there is an explicit theme hinted at in the title, as the ensemble attempt to envisage musically what it might feel like to undergo a severe brain embolism – and who better for sculptor and composer Graham Bowers to work with on such a project than Messrs. Stapleton, Liles, Waldron and Potter?

Wall of sound doesn’t begin to adequately describe the onslaught they unleash together; once the first few gentle tones of part one’s calm before the rupture (“… a life as it now is,”) have been dispensed with, there’s no stopping the sounds layering and slathering over each other in an incrementing palimpsest of composed, found, cut, pasted and thoroughly mashed up sources, from bombastic kettledrums and braying horn sections to the crooning sounds of yore, flummoxed and banjaxed together. Part two (“…is not what it was,”) is marked by the sudden drop from rubbery throbs and a slowing of the heartbeat pulse as what sounds like a terribly unprepared piano is given a strum, plonk and surging snippy surgery as the cackling, pounding blood music flows lopsidedly, seemingly up, down and round the hill with an increasingly demented air as a marching band engorges itself Ourobouros-style inside the victim’s head.

The religiose cacophony of the likes of C93’s Dog’s Blood Rising and Bowers’ own compositional method (which he terms sound theatre) bubbles up through the mire on synthetic strings and sampled roadworks, a symphony of multimedia detritus emergent as the brain begins to recurse upon itself, then shatter under the strain of catastrophic failure. The stumbling, slurred incoherence of a stroke sufferer comes via the poor abused piano once again and shivery strands of synthesis, smeared and traumatised by tape manipulations in the throes of Modernist spasms and bilious chorales.

There are repeated visitations to rhythmic devices – clocks, pulsing arteries, bright shards of painful sound stabbing straight for the inner ear, bowel-churning rumbles of the corpus under stress and strain – whose recurrence builds into a narrative of dissolution, of inevitable consequences of the blockage of blood flow to the brain. Part three (“…and will never be again”) brings medical emergency sounds in as the patient stabilises, the whirr and heave of assisted breathing phasing in and out of audibility with the immanence of those pearly gates and white-lit voids chiming at the brink. The thrum, crunch and crashes of the orchestral heaves take up the strain, the musical body undergoing its own catharsis as the voices return. Indistinct and unquiet, their speech is hesitant, their laughter hollow and the moans chorused to a fragmentary swing coda, jazz mired in a soup of dissonant brazen memories as the words decay to nullity.

A dizzying descent into malfunction on the most personal of levels, Rupture marks a return to gelatinous surrealistic pillow music from NWW in one of those fortuitous collaborations which was just waiting for the right circumstances to happen.

-Linus Tossio-


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