Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
Studio album by
RecordedSeptember 1978
GenreIndustrial, experimental
Length48:50 (Original)
64:06 (2001 reissue)
LabelUnited Dairies
ProducerNurse With Wound, Nick Rogers
Nurse With Wound chronology
Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella
To the Quiet Men from a Tiny Girl
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars link

Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella is the debut album by industrial music group Nurse With Wound, released on their own United Dairies label in 1979. An unusual record which blends noise and jamming, it is described by AllMusic as "one of the more glowing examples of late-70s industrial noise"[1] and defunct UK music magazine Sounds summed up their response by abandoning their usual star rating system to award the album a full 5 question marks. FACT magazine ranked the album at #51 on their list of "The 100 best albums of the 1970s".[2] The album's artwork includes the Nurse with Wound list, an insert which lists several dozen avant-garde, rock, krautrock and other "weird" recording artists who influenced the group. Further, the album's back cover bears the dedication: "This album is dedicated to LUIGI RUSSOLO."[3] Russolo was himself a pioneering noise music artist of the early 20th century.

The album's equally unusual title is a quote from the surreal, poetic novel Les Chants de Maldoror by Uruguayan-born French author Isidore-Lucien Ducasse, written under the pseudonym Comte de Lautréamont:

I am an expert at judging age from the physiognomic lines of the brow: he is sixteen years and four months of age. He is as handsome as the retractility of the claws in birds of prey; or, again, as the unpredictability of muscular movement in sores in the soft spot of the posterior cervical region; or, rather, as the perpetual motion rat-trap which is always reset by the trapped animal and which can go on catching rodents indefinitely and works even when it is hidden under straw; and, above all, as the chance juxtaposition of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table!

— Comte de Lautréamont, The Songs of Maldoror, Canto VI, Verse 3.[4]


The album came about when Steven Stapleton was working as a signwriter in London in 1978. Completing a job at an independent recording studio, he engaged in conversation with the studio's engineer, Nick Rogers. Rogers, frustrated with the advertising and voice-over work the studio brought in, expressed a wish to work with more experimental bands. Stapleton informed Rogers that he was in such a band and a studio date was arranged. Stapleton, however, was lying and had to hurriedly put something together. He called his friends John Fothergill and Heman Pathak, telling them to get hold of an instrument of some sort. Thus, the first line-up of Nurse With Wound (whose name supposedly relates to a scene in the film Battleship Potemkin) was quickly assembled, Stapleton on percussion, Fothergill on guitar (with built-in ring modulator) and Pathak on organ. The trio didn't have a chance to rehearse before entering the studio, yet the album was completed within 6 hours, with Rogers adding what was called "commercial guitar" on the sleeve. The studio's piano and synthesizer were also used. The tale is so fortuitous as to appear unlikely but Stapleton and Fothergill agreed on the story when interviewed separately by David Keenan for his book England's Hidden Reverse.

The album contains 3 lengthy tracks and Stapleton has stated that these were edited from improvisations with some overdubbing. Stapleton designed the sleeve using an old pornographic magazine. Some copies came in a brown paper bag as a handful of stores were not prepared to have the cover on display; however, both Rough Trade and Virgin took copies without censorship. The original hand-numbered 500 copy pressing was cleared within weeks. Amongst those who bought the album were Tim Gane, later of Stereolab, and William Bennett of Whitehouse, both of whom would later work with Stapleton.

One of the most discussed aspects of the album however was the inclusion of the Nurse with Wound list, an A4 sheet with a list of bands and artist who had provided inspiration to the group. It remains a touchstone for collectors of experimental and outsider music. The 2001 reissue of the album contains the bonus track "Strain, Crack, Break", which consists of a heavily cut-up recording of David Tibet reading the list.


There have been several subsequent editions of the album. It was made available on cassette in 1980 and a vinyl repressing was available as part of the Psilotripitaka box set. A compact disc edition was issued via World Serpent in 1990 with a 21st anniversary edition (slightly belatedly) following in 2001 in different artwork with the aforementioned "Strain, Crack, Break" as a bonus track. All of these editions are out of print. A forthcoming vinyl reissue has been announced by Dirter Promotions; the Dirter website states that the album will be "expanded and beautified" [1] for this edition - it will be released as a 3 sided double LP with an unedited version of "Strain, Crack, Break", reproduction artwork and other items.

A "remix" album was also released in 2003, Chance Meeting of a Defective Tape Machine and a Migraine which is, in fact, the sound of a malfunctioning tape deck distorting and adding electronic feedback to the music, eventually rendering it irrecognizable (the tape was made by Stapleton's friend and regular NWW live member Matt Waldron).

An edit of "The Six Buttons of Sex Appeal" appeared on the compilation Livin' Fear of James Last. It was a major edit, cutting the track down to only 4 minutes and 55 seconds.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Two Mock Projections" – 6:20
  2. "The Six Buttons of Sex Appeal" – 13:14

Side two[edit]

  1. "Blank Capsules of Embroidered Cellophane" – 29:16

Bonus track (2001 reissue)[edit]

  1. "Strain, Crack, Break" – 15:16


  • John Fothergill – Synthesizer, guitar, keyboards, wind
  • Heman Pathak – Synthesizer, guitar, keyboards, wind
  • Nicky Rogers – Guitar
  • Steve Stapleton – Synthesizer, flute, guitar, keyboards


  • England's Hidden Reverse - David Keenan, SAF 2003 ISBN 0-946719-40-3
  • Welcome To Cooloorta - video interview published by Brainwashed (website) 2004