Nurse With Wound ‎– Rock 'n Roll Station



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October 2, 2018
referencing Rock 'n Roll Station, CD, Album, RE, mt094b
Rock 'n Roll Station immediately stands out from previous Nurse With Wound albums: the fairly conventional-sounding title, six tracks - four of them running for less than ten minutes - and the cartoon-like flower character on the front cover. The title track is even a cover version! Outward appearances do a very good job of preparing the listener for an album that is very different to the abstract, side-long soundscapes of previous NWW albums.

The album began life with Steven Stapleton asking engineer Colin Potter to remix some of the more rhythmic elements of 'Colder Still' from 1992's Thunder Perfect Mind. As Potter gradually warped these sections into weirder and weirder pieces, a new album began to emerge. The tribal percussion loop that drives the second half of 'Colder Still', and some of the waterphone-sounding drones from the same section of the track, end up forming the basis of Rock 'n Roll Station's 17 minute centrepiece, the psychedelic 'Two Golden Microphones'. Building on those percussion and drone elements, Stapleton and Potter throw in a huge range of bizarre and atmospheric elements: stuttered drones, didgeridoos, chanting voices, and the usual selection of unidentifiable sounds. It's a mesmerising piece, and the album's highlight.

The drones from 'Colder Still' appear on the other five tracks, with the percussion loop departing to make way for a more skeletal drum machine rhythm. At times the beat has a little more swing - notably on the demon possessed 'A Silhouette and a Thumbtack' (the demon turns out to be David Tibet - who else?) - while sounding harsher and more militant at times - particularly when accompanied by Peat Bog's scratchy guitar on 'R&B Through Collis Browne'. The title track opens the album with Stapleton speaking the lyrics, in an unusual candid role for himself, and closes on the ambient sound collage that is the second half of 'Finsbury Park' (extended further in remixed form on later editions of the album).

Steven Stapleton has never been afraid to surprise listeners, and the relatively accessible, simple and rhythmic approach taken on Rock 'n Roll Station is probably the last thing fans would have expected. Yet I sympathise somewhat with fans who were disappointed by the album: if not for the change of style, but the relatively unexciting way in which it was approached. 'Two Golden Microphones' aside, most of the tracks on the album are fairly exchangeable, featuring many of the same elements. And although a creepy atmosphere is sustained throughout, it is largely the atmosphere of 'Colder Still' from the previous album: a track more impressive than anything here.

Ultimately, Rock 'n Roll Station falls into an unsatisfying mid-ground somewhere between studio record, remix album and experiment. Much of the material here is good, but as an album, its lack of content struggles to justify its run time.


August 15, 2017
referencing Rock 'n Roll Station, CD, Album, UDO 039CD
Buyers beware, the 1994 edition sadly suffered from disc rot.