the Wise Wound

The Wise Wound were a North London band in 1989-96. We played at pubs, clubs and festivals as well as busking around London. Being pretty much pre-internet there is nothing online from the time, and there are only a handful of passing mentions since. To redress that, this site is a fond tribute from bass player Den, for nostalgia and the record. I hope that members and friends of the band enjoy the trip down Memory Lane.


From Bri

First an introduction from percussionist Brian...

Anyone who found themselves on the burgeoning festival circuit of the early to mid 1990s will know that it was a heady time, with New Age counter-culture meeting the dance and rave scenes to create a truly magical feeling of optimism, altruism and pure love (or was that just the drugs talking?). Back then, open mics and spontaneous music-making weren’t so much the norm within mainstream society but at festivals, big and small, all sorts of cultural cross-fertilization was going on - around camp fires, in café tents and pretty much anywhere else besides. It was amid this climate that North London-based songstress Suzen created the world that was ‘the Wise Wound’. Not so much a band as a way of life, the Wounded were survivors of some of life’s less benign influences and channeled these harsh experiences into some of the most sublime and multi-faceted music around.

The Wise Wound were always hard to categorise but essentially it was psychedelic post-punk acoustic prog folk rock (ish). Central to the whole thing were Sue’s punk-ish vocals and disarmingly poetic yet hard-hitting lyrics. Woven around these were layers of rhythm and counter-melody, created on cello, double bass, flutes and – perhaps most importantly – massed voices. For a time there were also keyboards and even electric guitar but the core remained acoustic and organic throughout. Ranging from the ethereal to the absurd, the songs had a longevity that die-hard fans understood and treasured. This was essentially a live format and perhaps it is appropriate that the magic was rarely, if ever, captured in the studio.

The band’s spiritual home was Glastonbury, to which they would make an annual pilgrimage, playing unannounced on the Tor for the Summer Solstice before decamping for Pilton to perform, on average, 10 or 12 gigs over the weekend. Today’s festival-goers can enjoy live music in the Avalon Café (formerly the Wise Crone Café), which was started by Wise Wound asking if they could sing for their supper. But perhaps the band’s favourite venue at Glastonbury was ‘Café Sanctuaire’, run by a disorganized yet visionary crowd from East Sussex, who both fed and nurtured the Wise Wound, as well as other performers, poets and sages.

One of Sue’s key collaborators throughout has been bassist Rock Solid, who – with the help of some of Wise Wound’s most dutiful fans and supporters – has created an archive from live, studio and rehearsal recordings. It seems fitting that the Wise Wound should be remembered and that fans and new-comers alike should have the opportunity to relive old memories and pay tribute to what was a unique and remarkable band.

Brian Madigan
December 2011

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