Nurse With Wound – Tape Monkey Mooch

Nurse With Wound
Tape Monkey Mooch

What follows is part one of a three-part series regarding Angry Electric Finger, which is one of the latest offerings from Nurse With Wound. Those unfamiliar with Nurse With Wound should be aware that the collective has been steadily releasing a metric fuckton of albums since 1979. Though the cast has changed over the years, it has always centered around founding member Stephen Stapleton. In addition to Nurse With Wound, Stephen has also appeared in industrial noise faction Current 93 as well as producing such artist as The Legendary Pink Dots. In other words, the guy has more cred than the entire Vagrant and Drive-Thru roster put together. So put down that latest issue of Spin with the now uber-buff Reznor on the cover and pay attention to one of the masters of noisy gorgeous doom.

This first installment, Tape Monkey Mooch, is a collaboration of Stapleton and one Jim O’Rourke. Hopefully, the lot of you recognize O’Rourke. However, for avid readers nursing a hangover or coming down off of an all night bender, Jim O’Rourke was for a long time the “5th Beatle” of Sonic Youth until that band finally got around to making him a real member. I hear the initiation was a site to behold. Anyway, he now lends bass and all sorts of odd noise to Sonic Youth’s sound. This either makes Sonic Youth even more genius or helps the band crank out the sort of drivel that showed up on NYC Ghosts & Flowers, depending on what type of coffee you drink.

So, after all this build up, you must be wondering what the joint effort from a pioneer of the dark, droney, ambient soundscapes and a New York skronk auteur sounds like. Having listened to the discs numerous times in various mental states, I can definitely say … pretty fucking weird.

Naturally, the first disc is comprised of two lone tracks, each clocking in around 20 minutes. The first track starts inaudibly. Slowly, menacingly, Nurse With Wound allows the elevator to descend into subterranean depths where blind, grey-skinned zombies eternally ratchet damnable machines together. Creative writing binge? Maybe, but I kid you not, this album slowly comes into life with the sound of wrenches. The only thing this closely resembles is the definitive 30-minute version of “The Box” where the brothers Hartnoll sampled a squeaky chair inbetween the movements. That just sounded weird though. This is downright creepy. In the background, you have the obligatory gongs (death tolls?). Then the breathing kicks in. At least it sounds like breathing: slightly inhuman, but still breathing all the same. This might be compared to wandering around a haunted iron works somewhere in Siberia at 3 am with no flashlight and a head full of vodka. The only thing to really guide you through the gloom is an oh-so-distant flute sample that just bearly sits on the edge of the register, like that tavern you really really need to find.

Somewhere between the haunted submarine and the endless damnable wrenching, the album merges into the second half. Now we veer away from the bleak factories and haunted empty vessels to the back alley behind a gin bar hosting a beatnik jazz band. No money to get in, so we must suffer outside hearing tribal drums and the saxophone floating to where we stand among the empty liquor boxes and grumbling bums. Growing tired of the gorgeous jazz by way of urine-stained alley, we cop some psychedelics from the Berkley grad on the corner and spend the rest of the evening riding the subways freaking out to the bizarre ambient sounds of the trains. Finally, at the end of the line everything winds down (literally) into the ominous lull of the machine.

For those not into the slightly metaphorical description, just know that the album gets pretty damn weird. However, it’s the kind of weird that you will enjoy so long as you’re capable of expanding your horizons and realize that there is far more out there than the standard verse chorus verse. Open up your mind and chill out with some of the creepiest ambient noise around.