Nurse With Wound and Graham Bowers ~ Rupture

One hour, three minutes and thirty seconds of death: that’s one way to describe Rupture, and in this case, the description is literal.  This concept album seeks to “create a musical illustration” of the dying brain following a stroke; and damn, is it powerful.  The brain is a miraculous storage facility, but following a stroke, all of the neurons get jumbled.  The ensuing hodgepodge of memory and fantasy, important and inconsequential is fearsome and wondrous all at once.  So much packed into electrical impulses!  So much beauty, so much despair!  All of these conflicting thoughts and feelings are present in Rupture, an album composed in a tightly controlled fashion, yet ironically reflective of chaos.

Shy strings and sullen brass introduce the stroke: bursts of color like tiny stars exploding in the brain.  A series of drum rolls leads to an ominous passageway.  From whence do these incoherent voices stem?  Are their chants sinister or benign?  (To quote Jacob’s Ladder, “if you’re frightened of dying, and you’re holding on, you’ll see demons tearing your life away”.)  Is there a message embedded in their code?  And what of the radio transmission that follows?  Is it a memory, a phantasm, a TV show?  Who will sort these things out?  Why do sense not?  Who in, as wonder?  Feel.  Truth, is!  Is!

Why does the phone keep ringing?  Who am I?  At this point, the questions are moot.  As outsiders, we know what’s happening.  We know that the heartbeat is fading, that the systems are dying, that the snatches of radio, the choirs and laughter, the children singing “Happy birthday”, are all part of a larger scheme: a life.  The auditory dredge is in full effect, but scrambled.  Notes begin to warp as if passing through wormholes.  And yet, for brief moments, everything makes sense.  The mind is back in the presence of the indelible: a playground, an orchestra, a Latin mass.  Yet as the blood vessels grow desperate for oxygen, all coherence fades.  The sensical crumbles into the void.  A clock stops and restarts.  One yearns to comfort one who by nature cannot be comforted, can no longer recognize comfort, can only recognize that there is no more recognition – and soon even that will be lost.

In its final moments, the composition achieves the triumph of not-knowing, a victory that mirrors its subject.  How faithful a reflection this may be has yet to be determined; one can only hope that some time passes before such mysteries are revealed.  But the album sounds as we imagine one’s dying, stroke-ridden brain might sound, and therein lies its sad and savage triumph.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

One comment

  1. Pingback: ACL 2012: Top Ten Experimental « a closer listen

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