Nurse With Wound, "Images/Zero Mix (Deluxe Edition)"

cover image To celebrate the release of the three Angry Eelectric Finger albums several years back, Steven Stapleton salvaged paint and vinyl from a landfill and turned them into 100 paintings that were displayed in galleries in Ireland and Portland. Years in the making, all of these paintings are finally collected here in one hardbound volume. This lavish package also comes with the original source material on CD for the first time as well as an additional disc of music, making this one of Nurse With Wound’s finest releases to date.


Beta-lactam Ring

What I particularly like about these paintings is that they are done in a style that reflects little of Stapleton's previous visual work. Other than a few variations of the Eye of Horus that adorns the cover of Live at Bar Maldoror, the ideas for this project are self-contained. Bright colors are juxtaposed in fluid abstract shapes of watery design, with hands, eyes, and sexual organs frequently the central focus. While all the paintings are individually named, occasionally bits of text slip into the paintings themselves. What is particularly amazing to me is that even though some paintings have themes or colors in common, each one is recognizably unique, which is no easy feat considering their quantity. Flipping through the book overloads the senses, a psychedelic experience in the best sense of the word. Included are a few pictures of the paintings as they hung at the Burren School of Art exhibition, and I can only imagine how joyously dizzying seeing them all together must have been. As for the book itself, it is well made and seems pretty durable, complete with its own dust jacket and embossing on the cover. The glossy endpapers are a nice touch, and the paintings themselves really come alive on these thick pages.

Originally bundled with the complete Eelectric vinyl set, the return of Zero Mix is a cause for celebration. As much as I enjoy and appreciate the work that Jim O'Rourke, Cyclobe, and Irr.App.(Ext.) put into their respective volumes of the project, I have always thought the raw Zero Mix was among Nurse's best albums on its own. Drones, panning mechanical sounds, squeals, a variety of textured layers, and light melodic contributions from members of Xhol Caravan make it one of the most engaging albums in the Nurse catalog. The second disc, Requital for Lady Day, is a more solemn and atmospheric affair. The shorter of the two songs, the title track has drones that ebb and flow against a backdrop of subtle melodic ambience. "Ocean" continues the theme but ups the ante with harrowing metallic crescendos that add tension to the track’s otherwise hazy mood.

I was impressed with both the content and the presentation of this package. The paintings are uniformly beautiful and the music is excellent, while the materials used are sturdy and of high quality, from the book itself to the stiff CD jackets to the box in which everything is enclosed. As the first collection of Stapleton's visual art, Images/Zero Mix sets the bar pretty damn high.