In 1979, the members of Nurse With Wound, Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak, compiled a roll call of their favorite "outsider" musical artists to include with their first album, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella. No other details were provided, just 300 or so names in block type. The second version of the list included several newly added names, and came with the To the Quiet Men From a Tiny Girl LP in 1980. Stapleton and co. knew not what they hath wrought; the so-called Nurse With Wound List has since become a scavenger hunt of holy grails for fanatical collectors of Krautrock, progressive rock, psychedelic, post-punk, jazz, free improvised and experimental music.
Most of the artists on the list stem from the period 1969-1980, that gloriously creative, fertile era when most of my favorite records got made, boundaries were broken and excesses were indulged. To date, many of these artists and their recordings remain unissued on CD, though a substantial number have been made available by stalwart reissue labels like Alga Marghen, Captain Trip, Fractal, Spalax, Paradigm and MIO. In fact, the list is at least partly responsible (along with the Freeman brothers, Julian Cope and others) for the resurgence of interest in the Krautrock genre and the reissues that followed.
I have attempted to include here only selections that cannot be easily found elsewhere. By and large, the labels that have endeavored to put these titles out are very small labels that deserve your patronage. I have no desire to undercut their business, or the business of specialty stores and distributors around the world. Most of what you'll see and hear here (and in future posts) are rips from my personal vinyl collection, or else they've been acquired as downloads via online file-sharing communities.
Orchid Spangiafora - Flee Past's Ape Elf - According to information found here, "Orchid Spangiafora is Rob Carey sometimes aided by Byron Coley & Chris Osgood (of the Suicide Commandos)." This album came out in 1979, and has got to be the weirdest record ever released on Twin/Tone. Brilliant, obsessive, hilarious spoken word-tape-cut-up-hell of the highest order. For audio samples, or to purchase a "custom CD-R" from Twin/Tone, click here. [Sheer Madness mp3]
Sally Smmit and Her Musicians (1980) - Hangahar - This is The Mekons' Sally Timms like you've never heard her, long before she became the belle of skewed new wave-country music fans everywhere. Released on the ridiculously short-lived Groovy label (Pete Shelley's label, which also released his now ultra-rare Sky Yen album), the album is two sidelong pieces of shambling post-Yoko Ono, post-Can jamitude. Undoubtedly an influence on Kraut-pranksters Damenbart. [A - Part One (edit) mp3]
Verto - Krig/Volubilis - Dark, hovering, French progressive psych released in 1976 on the Tapioca label. Tapioca was associated with the obscure Pôle label, responsible for the original release of this and several other monumental French prog classics featured on the list, including the Besombes-Rizet double LP. Guitars, keyboards and ominous vocals. [Et Terre mp3] [TK 240 S 52 mp3]
Juan Hidalgo - Rrose Selavy - A wonderful piece of progressive minimalism by this leading figure of the Spanish avant-garde. This was his second LP, originally issued on the Cramps label around 1977. [Rrose Selavy mp3]
Wolfgang Dauner - Output (1970) - Out-of-print ECM album by the German jazz pianist who started out playing rhythm and blues, and progressively traversed the fringe as the 60s became the 70s. Though The Oimels album has been heavily sampled by Nurse With Wound and hailed elsewhere as a proto-Krautrock groove record, according to the Freeman brothers Output is Steve Stapleton's favorite Dauner recording. It's certainly mine. [Nothing To Declare mp3]
Bernard Vitet - La Guêpe - Trumpeter Vitet played with Alan Silva, and would later form Un Drame Musical Instantané (1976) with NWW List notables Jean-Jacques Birgé and Francis Gorgé. La Guêpe was released on the Futura label in 1972, comprising two sides of avant-garde shenanigans with an assortment of acoustic instruments and voice. [Face A mp3]
Archimedes Badkar - Archimedes Badkar II - Swedish progressive rock with a wealth of Asian and Middle Eastern elements and instrumentation, comparable to Embryo or Between from the German camp. Their album Tre is readily available as a reissue, though this double album from 1976 seems to be generally acknowledged as their masterpiece. [Charmante Yerevan, En Lat Fran Armenien mp3] [Tva Varldar mp3]
Moolah - Woe Ye Demon Possessed - Heavy experimental psych album, an American (NY) private press from 1974. Spooky piano and percussive studio layering have drawn fair comparisons to Faust, Ash Ra Tempel and early Pink Floyd. [Crystal Waters mp3]
Michel Waisvisz - Crackle - Wow. Performer/composer/inventor Waisvisz built his first Crackle Box in the 70s and is still going strong; type his name into Google and you'll see that he's been busy. This incredible album, released on FMP in 1978, was created almost entirely with Crackle Synthesizer (that's 3 Crackle Boxes) and voice. He also invented something called The Hands. Earlier this year, the Sonig label released a CD of Michel Waisvisz material. [a. De Brug Gaat Open b. Berliner Neustadlament c. Stradivarius mp3]
The NWW List holds many more mysteries yet to be revealed.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and onward.