Boomkat Product Review:
A high water mark of drone and dark ambient spheres, ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’ is perhaps the most revered of Steven Stapelton’s prism pushers as Nurse With Wound - a massive influence on everything from AFX’s 'SAW II' to Coil and Sunn 0)))!!!
Recorded by Stapleton in May 1988 with his wife Diana Rogerson and a very sensitive array of FX units, the album features them creating feedback loops from only the amplified hum of their plugged-in machines; there was no input signal, just the sound serendipitously created when Stapleton moved his hand above the equipment, generating a spatial/spectral reaction akin to a theremin. Effectively forming a phanstamagoric dialogue between human and electrical energy fields, the results have riddled and enraptured countless “heads” for the past 30 years, and are acclaimed among the finest examples of what is regarded as “dark ambient” in circulation.
Arriving a decade into Nurse With Wound’s illustrious run of avant-garde classics that started with 1979’s ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella’ and its now-holy “NWW List” of rare, underground psychedelic LPs, ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’ would become the group’s best received release, to the extent that its initial sales allowed Stapleton, Diana, and their new born daughter, Lilith, to move from a festering London to Cooloorta, Co. Clare, Éire, on the edge of the Burren, where their house is located only a kilometre from what would become Father Ted’s house, and is now listed as a artistic site of interest on Tripadvisor!
Regularly referenced by drone fiends and romantics of all stripes, ‘Soliloquy For Lilith’ has inarguably come to define a whole branch of ambient thought and practice over the past 30. The traction of its low register frequencies and the keening magnetism of its swirl would pull ambient music away from Eno’s conception of anodyne background music and somewhere closer to the spirit-massaging waves of early downtown practitioners such as Phill Niblock or Eliane Radigue, and in turn it created a bridge from their oblique yet transcendent scope into both the eeriest axes of AFX’s ‘SAW II’ masterpiece and the sprawling subharmonic distortion of Sunn 0))). It hardly needs to be stressed, but this album is an exceptional opus of atmospheric electronic music, no matter what angle you’re coming from.