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Epic Nurse With Wound List Reissue Project From Finders Keepers
John Doran , July 18th, 2019 07:03

Strain, Crack And Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume 1 (France) is the first in a planned series of compilation albums

The Nurse With Wound List is probably the most notorious record collecting document there is - and Finders Keepers have committed to releasing music on a series of compilations from all of the musicians mentioned*.

The original line up of the avant garde industrial group - Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak - compiled the original list of 291 artists in 1978 as a list of influences on the project which was published as part of the artwork to their debut album, Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella the following year.

The painstakingly compiled list wasn't an afterthought but it did go on to find a life of its own beyond the group. For better or worse, it has become something of a field guide to outsider or underground music and a shopping list for record collectors with deep pockets. (Many record shops and vinyl fairs are all too happy to add the 'NWW' sticker to various rarities - it's a no questions asked guarantee of a substantial price hike.) The list was expanded in 1980 with the release of To The Quiet Men From A Tiny Girl. In more recent years the notoriety of the list has been kept alive by many Facebook groups, fan sites, message board discussions and the like.

The artists featured on the list were collected by Stapleton and Fothergill on a record buying binge that lasted for the length of the 1970s and took them right across Europe and Scandinavia. David Keenan referred to their shoestring budget vinyl hunting trips as 'field work' in his essential England's Hidden Reverse book on Nurse With Wound, Coil and Current 93.

Fab archival label Finders Keepers run by Andy Votel and Doug Shipton are kicking off the series with Strain, Crack And Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume 1 (France) in September which features wild tracks - one per named artist - from the likes of Pierre Henry, Lard Free, Jacques Thollot and Philippe Besombes.

Comprising of tracks that can be loosely classified as "musique concrète, free jazz, Rock In Opposition, Zeuhl School space rock, macabre ballet music, lo-fi sci-fi, and classic horror literature inspired prog", the initial album in the series contains a couple of artists thought to be many as imaginary red herrings.

Speaking about the release, the pair say: "When Steven Stapleton, Heman Pathak and John Fothergill’s anti-band Nurse With Wound decided to include an alphabetical dedication to all their favourite bands on the back of their inaugural LP the notion of creating a future record dealers’ trophy list couldn’t have been further from their minds.

"By adding a list of untravelled European mythical musicians and noise makers to their own debut release of unchartered industrial art rock they were merely providing a suggestive support system of existing potential likeminded bands, establishing safety in numbers should anyone require sonic subtitles for Nurse With Wound’s own mutant musical language. Luckily for them, the record landed in record shops in the midst of 1979’s memorable summer of abject apathy and its sound became a hit amongst disillusioned agit-pop pickers and artsy post-punks, thus playing a key role in the bourgeoning “Industrial” genre that ensued.

"[For] the most part, however, the list , like most instruction manuals, remained unreadable, syntactic and suspiciously sarcastic… As potential 'real musicians' Nurse WIth Wound became an Industrial music fan’s household name, but in contrast many of the names on The Nurse With Wound List were considered to be imaginary musicians, made-up bands or booby traps for hacks and smart-arses. It took a while for the rest of the record collecting community to catch on or finally catch up."

The next two volumes, covering German artists, have already been compiled.

Strain, Crack And Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume 1 (France) is released by Finders Keepers on September 6

(*This presupposes that all of the albums are actually real. Stapleton has since claimed that they made some of the titles up, with Fothergill denying this strenuously. Such is the obscurity of the list that no one seems to be able to come to a definitive answer. The FK series should be able to put this notion to bed for once and all.)