Produced by Genís Segarra
Steven Stapleton has always been linked to collecting records, oddities and unclassifiable music memorabilia. Nurse with Wound’s first album, 'Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella', included a list of 291 artists, composers, bands and easter eggs that had contributed in some way or another to shaping the original spirit of the trio (formed by Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak).
Almost forty years later, the list is still a must for collectors of unusual music (in 1979 and, in many cases, still unusual today). A bizarre shopping list for music lovers of the unknown and slightly unorthodox. Like Stapleton.
‘I wasn’t too keen on pop music, country music or reggae. But pretty much anything else…’ Stapleton uses this bold statement to describe the foundations of his obsession for collecting. A passion for accumulation that, like his artistic career, transcends musical genres, media, scenes and eras, while embracing all cultural artefacts remotely connected to the multiple parameters of his palette of tastes and interests.
Like the catalogue of United Dairies, his record label, or the discography of Nurse with Wound, his main vehicle for musical propagation since 1978, Stapleton’s personal record collection is a puzzle of the unusual, a monstrous assemblage of events and expressions, a tribute to sonic diversity and to the eccentricity underlying each and every one of his productions, designs and sculptures. Or his very collection.
His multiple collections, in fact: records, cacti, rare found objects, all accumulated in his peculiar farmhouse in County Clare, Ireland. The sum of his collections forms a larger collection that might, with luck, help us understand and approach a character that seems incomprehensible by nature.
This episode of MEMORABILIA is not only an open window onto the obsession for collecting of one of the living legends of experimental music. Stapleton’s testimony is, once again, an approximation to the act of collecting, classifying, filtering and discovering. Passionately obsessing over some specific thing, and then unleashing that obsession.
As Stapleton says in the programme: ‘It’s something that never leaves you. Once you get that collecting bug and that fascination with music… And I’m still going back to the sixties! And I’m still going back to between ’68 and ’72. I thought I’d heard everything. Ten years ago I thought I’d heard every single album, every obscure record from that time. Now I realise it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much stuff out there.’