Artist Profile – Steven Stapleton

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For three decades now Steven Stapleton has been serving wonderful (and wonderfully weird) sonic platters that mixed anything from psychedelia and krautrock to ambient and musique concrete. There is also a heavy non-musical influence in his works, as well, due to Stapleton’s strong interest in dadaism and surrealism movements. He is a man behind Nurse With Wound, a project that he was the only permanent member of, although through years he was assisted by members of Sword Volcano Complex, Hafler Trio and Current 93, among many others.

Originally, NWW started in the late 70s as a trio of Stapleton, Henry Pathak and John Fotgerhill. By 1981, however, the only remaining member of the band was Stapleton himself and he considers 1982 “Homotopy to Marie” the first proper NWW release.

1979 “Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And Umbrella” was NWW’s debut and probably one of their most controversial records as well. The title was based on a work by Comte De Lautremont, the French poet from 19th century mostly known for his book Les Chants Des Maldoror (which became a point a reference for not only NWW, but Current 93 and many other bands). Some record stores refused to display the original cover of the album, which was designed by Stapleton from a sleeve of an old porn magazine. All Music Guide called the album “one of the more glowing examples of late 70’s industrial noise” and UK magazine Sounds gave it a rating of 5 question marks.

1980 “Merzbild Schwet” was recorded without Pathak/Fotgerhill and was described by AMG as “”the first fully realized NWW record….a far more mature effort than its predecessors, much more focused and sounding less like some stoned guys goofing off in the studio”. 1981 “Insect And Individual Silenced” and featured Trevor Reidy and J.G Thirlwell (Foetus) as contributors. 1988 “Soliloqoy For Lilith” (essentially, one long drone separated into few tracks)  was a dedication to Stapleton’s daughter originally released as 3XLP set and considered to be one of his most succesful releases to date.

1992 “Thunder Perfect Mind” was a sister album to Current 93 album of the same name – although both records featured some of the same sounds and lyrics, they were still different from each other. 1993 “Crumb Duck” 1997 “Simple Headphone Mind” EP were both collaborations between NWW and English band Stereolab – apparently, the idea came out of the fact that Stereolab’s guitarist Tim Gane initially invited Stapleton to produce their album “Peng!”, but Stapleton refused to do it on the grounds that the record was “too rock”.   “Simple Headphone Mind” was a follow-up to “Crumb Duck” and featured more of Stereolab’s original recordings, unlike its predecessor, which mostly contained mostly unrecognizable remixes of various Stereolab tracks.

Currently, Stapleton remains as prolific as ever, since he released numerous collaborations with the likes of Cyclobe, Jim O’Rourke, Faust and Sunn O)))), full-length albums and contributed tracks to a multitude of compilations since 1999 (not counting re-releases of old NWW material). While hardly a mainstreaml artist, Stapleton nonethless made a name for himself, since some of the recordings of rare NWW material are treasured by music collectors and some of them are selling for an obscene amounts of money on Ebay.

In 2005, Stapleton also did a concert at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco,  his first live performance since 1984, which was followed by a band’s appearance at All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. Stapleton also announced plans to make his first hip-hop album with numerous guests, although it remains to be seen when (and if) the record will finally materialize.

In 2003, SAF Publishing released “England’s Hidden Reverse”, a book written by David Keenan (a frequent contributor to music magazines Mojo and Wire), which was dedicated to Coil, Current 93 and Nurse With Wound as well as the general history of England and the context in which all of those bands were born.

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