Nurse With Wound – The Sylvie And Babs High-Thigh Companion
While I am far from considering myself a “fan” of Nurse With Wound, I do hold a certain appreciation for some of their albums. Though a few of them are just too “far out” (even for me, which is impressive), many of their earlier albums (specifically “Merzbild Schwet” and “Chance Meeting…”) are brave and commendable presentations of dadist avant-garde experimentalism.
“The Sylvie And Babs High-Thigh Companion” is atypical, even for Nurse With Wound. Consisting of two LONG (both tracks a little over twenty minutes each) tracks, titled “You Walrus Hurt The One You Love” and “Great Balls Of Fur”, the albums is a long, meandering expedition into strangeness. Seemingly dozens of vocal samples soon give way to clanking metallic sounds (a jackhammer is included, pre-dating Sunn O)))’s use of one by years). Featuring over forty different contributors (reading like a who’s who of interesting people in music’s underground), it is definitely possible that the majority of this album was created, rather than sampled (although there are a few places where you can hear easily recognizable TV segments, such as the intros to cop shows and a very short segment of “the Monster Mash”). Insturments also come and go with an alarming speed: electric bass, horns, various synthesized elements, many different percussive insturments (including many that sound like soup or garbage cans). Vocals should technically be counted as an insturment too, as they are often edited to pieces (literally) or plied with several different sound effects and/or distortions.
I would give individual track descriptions, but that would spoil the suprise. In addition, with the thousands of sounds packed into each song, it is almost ridiculous to even begin to attempt a simplification of what is, in the end, to expansive to simplifiy into textual description. The best way to summarize this album is that, while it has been promoted as a spoof of “easy listening”, it would be best to claim that this is exactly opposite of that: “uneasy listening”. Not that it is overly uncomfortable or non-conformist, just strange and highly unusual.
Unfortunatly, while the tracks themselves are quite good in individual segments, they are too scattershot and wandering to be completely effective. And, at twenty minutes, they are way too long, with certain sections feeling underdeveloped at the expense of needlessly repetitive motifs elsewhere. That is not to say that the album is not good; it could merely have been much stronger with a shorter, more contentrated and “unified” presentation/concept. Nevertheless, for a forty-three minute of the aural equivalent of having a radio and television set turned on, whilst randomly changing the channels as aliens and electromagnetic waves further distort the percieved message, this will certainly do the trick.