Nurse With Wound & Graham Bowers 'Rupture' CD
Cover by Babs Santini.
Back cover image by Graham Bowers
This work is an attempt to create a musical illustration of the 'goings-on' in the brain during the last hour and three minutes of life after suffering a major stroke.
The piece is multi-layered and is primarily concerned with the internal chaos caused by the loss of control of thought processes, responses and consequential actions, with all types of incoherent disjointed memories and present real time events - as well as moments of lucidity, panic and fear - clashing, merging and evolving.
When the complexity of the human brain's retained information and the inherent properties which constitute a 'life', an 'individual', a 'person', are catastrophically damaged after blood - 'life's fuel' - ruptures the previously organised and essential control centres, absolute mayhem follows. The cold, hard indisputable truth, and one that we all have no alternative but to accept, is that "...a life as it now is, is not what it was, and never will be again".
REVIEW fron Brainwashed by John Kealy :
This "musical illustration" of the events occurring in the brain following a lethal stroke is a dramatic, chilling and emotional portrait. Musically, it is removed from anything else Nurse With Wound have done (even if it does touch on similar influences as the rest of Steve Stapleton’s body of work) as Bowers adds a more composerly hand to Stapleton’s surrealist drift. Bowers and Stapleton have crafted something unique that does not fit neatly into any categories, even amongst Nurse With Wound’s expanded horizons. This is draining, devastating and utterly compelling.
Bowers’ work in the medical field designing environmentally controlled rooms for operating theatres and medical imaging suites has added tremendously to the power of the piece. Listening to this from two different perspectives, firstly from that of an enthusiastic experimental music listener and secondly from my professional perspective as a neuroscientist reveals an impressive and moving synthesis of art, science and pathos. Concepts such as memory and disinhibition of neural networks are played out in the music; a warped sample of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the sound of children’s voices appear to represent the resurgence of memories in the minutes before death (possibly due to metabolic disturbances within the temporal lobes of the brain). The disrupted electrophysiological rhythms of the brain are represented in the discordant and tumultuous rhythms of Bowers’ playing.
Towards the end of the album, various permutations of "My Blue Heaven" are played, gasped and hinted at. The protagonist/patient/spirit promises to see loved ones (whether living or dead, we are unsure) in their blue heaven. The effect is moving and unsettling, my own memories at the loss of loved ones (albeit not from a stroke) emerging in the fabric of the music. While I have always found Nurse With Wound’s music to be enthralling on a number of levels, this is the first time I have ever felt Stapleton’s music to connect in such a powerfully emotional way. I have been frightened, entertained, humoured and provoked but never have I felt grief.
The weight of Rupture is crushing; this is not music to turn on, sit back and relax to. It is intrusive, captivating and mentally exhausting. Each time I listen to the album, I feel like another little part of me has changed. Aptly, the titles of the segments sum up not only the medical and physiological implications of a stroke but my feelings as a listener following this work: "A life as it now is, is not what it was, and will never be again."