I’m part of the Facebook group “Now Playing,” which is basically a place for people to post pictures of whatever record they happen to be listening to at the moment so that others can comment on it. Sure, there’s some run of the mill stuff, but since it primarily appeals to music junkies, a lot of what is posted borders on the esoteric, and a good chunk of it is stuff I’ve never heard of. Which in and of itself is cool, not in a pretentious “look how obscure I am,” but in a, “huh, that looks interesting, maybe I need to look into it” kind of way.
The first time I’d heard of Nurse With Wound (NWW) was when trying to decide about buying a Death In June record (though not the one I ultimately bought and wrote about), and in the course of my research on the later I came across references to the former. And Nurse sounded unusual. Difficult. Challenging. Kind of the, “is this art or crap” way.
I didn’t really consider buying any NWW albums, but I was still sort of intrigued. So when a Now Playing member posted one of their NWW albums I took a look at the comments. And that’s how I came across Luke, who was a big fan and offered to give people good “starting points” if they were interested in checking out NWW, pointing people towards the style of Nurse albums that best fit their interests. So I emailed him and asked for some recommendations. And never heard back. Bummer. Then a few weeks ago I was looking at my Facebook inbox and remembered that there was an “Other” box and that stuff sometimes gets lost in there… and there was an email from Luke to me and two other people, breaking down the Nurse With Wound catalog. I immediately responded and thanked him, and it turned out one of the other recipients hadn’t seen his email either, but did get my response.
So one of the two records Luke recommended for the more industrial side of Nurse With Wound was 1992s Thunder Perfect Mind (the other was 1994s Rock ‘n Roll Station). I found a copy of the 2001 vinyl version of the release on Discogs and ordered it, and here I sit today, listening to it for the first time. And it is industrial, in the truest sense of the word (to my ears – more on that in a sec). Repetitive sounds for periods of time, abrasive, and boring a hole through the a lazy, rainy Saturday afternoon. I think if I played the full length version of “Cold” and listened to it through headphones that I would emerge from the 23 minute experience with my DNA permanently altered. Maybe in a good way. Maybe not.
I just asked Holly what she thought.
Me: “This is some serious industrial.”
Holly: “Funny. I was thinking the exact opposite. It’s too… Mario.” Meaning Mario Brothers. Meaning to video game soundtrackish.
So I guess the first rule of Nurse With Wound Club is, “Your Mileage May Vary.”
It’s not “music” in the traditional sense. It’s musical… but in the sense that it is an experimentation of sound. And a lot of it throbbing, repetitive sound. You can’t dance to it. You can’t sing along (because, you know, there aren’t any words…). You can only experience it. In a way that forces its way into your head, by not just the use of repetition, but by then sudden breaks from the current repetitive patter, which is then replaced by a new one for a time.
Now, mind you, all of the above only applies to side A. And this is a double album.
The vinyl version of Thunder Perfect Mind is interesting. It’s four songs, spread over two records. Side A is one song – the 23 minute “Cold.” Side B is a five-and-a-half minute remix of “Cold” that sounds almost nothing like it – it’s much less grating that the parent track, and actually has something resembling a beat to it. The second record is one long song called “Colder Still” that runs almost 34 minutes and covers the entirety of the two sides. And this is a whole different kind of song than “Cold.” If I was throwing a label at it, I’d call it “ambient horror industrial.” It’s like a horror movie soundtrack, or really more like a horror movie song… if you could make the movie into music, this is what it would sound like. There might be an exorcism happening, or some type of black magic. Unlike on “Cold,” “Colder Still” gives us vocals, but their eerie and ethereal, like they’re coming at you from another plane of existence. I really like “Colder Still.”
So the Nurse With Wound experiment comes to a close. Will I check out more Nurse? I don’t know; maybe. If I can find a reasonably priced used record or CD, I’d give some more of their stuff a shot. Thunder Perfect Mind isn’t going to make it into heavy rotation here at Casa de Vinyl Lane, but the second record will get some more plays, that’s for sure. Especially with Halloween right around the corner. I wonder if I can use it to scare the trick-or-treaters…