on 6 June 2009
I first came by this 'band' in the late seventies via the John Peel Show, I believe John was airing NWW's debut album. I was immediately fascinated and enchanted by the musical chaos they created, which even by the heady standards of the day was in a league of its own. Whilst surfing the Amazon vaults some thirty years later, I found this, which is from a few years on. I first played it in the company of members of my family, including wife, daughter, son, and son's partner, who just happened to be there when it arrived. It ilicited responses of anger, fear, revulsion and shock; and genuine concerns about my judgement, even sanity itself. (All this just for the casual listener). I was told to "turn off those terrible noises", when I refused, my family left the room to reconcile themselves to the world.
It is impossible to provide a meaningful revue of Homotopy, the contents are nothing like the debut album, in fact it makes that sound rather conventional. Although not an expert on industrial or dark ambient music, I have greatly enjoyed some of Brian Eno's early work, especially things like 'Another Green World', 'Before and After Science', and his collaboration with Bowie on 'Low' and 'Heroes'. Despite some very general similarities to tracks like 'Sky Saw' from Another Green World, 'Sense of Doubt' and 'Neukoln' from notable Eno/Bowie collaboration, 'Heroes' - which was music, whereas such a description for this would be stretching things - I don't really see too many other similarities; Eno's work is some way off the mainstream but its influences are of this world. I could describe some of the sounds here as industrial noises from another planet, and others as bleak utterances from an asylum in the darkest corner of hell, and that's just track one.
On track two, amidst the strangeness, there is repetitive dialogue from a woman and child, their graceful voices, though offering no words of comfort, bring moments of reassurance because they are recognizably human. But alas the comfort is short lived, by track three the monsters begin stirring; I can see their grotesque outlines in the foggy swamp below and hear their echoey groans and wails as I pass through, but for now I am safe in my lofty carriage, way above the swamp, though fear is a constant companion. Track four is a coma inducing 25 minutes of assorted wierdness. Track five is the exit at the end of the tunnel and by now I'm eager to be reacquainted with the human race.
Nurse With Wound is essentially a vehicle for surrealist Steven Stapleton to output his nightmarish sound visions, in the same way Kurt Wagner uses his band 'Lambchop' and Robert Fripp used 'King Crimsone' as "a way of getting things done" as Fripp described it. All three are constants in ever changing line-ups. I'm not making musical comparisons here; the respective outputs of Wagner and Fripp, though at times off the wall, are nothing like Homotopy. I don't really know what is, even the inner artwork will mess with your head if you try to work out what the hell you're looking at. I must admit to a perverse admiration for the power this man has to repel and disgust the conventional mind without any use of profanity or obsenity. It cannot be called music, either dark ambient or otherwise, although I have read that NWW have made music in their thirty odd year history, and for that matter aspects of the debut album sounded like a sort of psychedelic punk dirge, so I suppose that qualifies it as some sort of music in the greater scheme of things. In any event, it's pretty good stuff and I'll be checking out more as soon as some of the prices also begin inhabiting the known world.