Wednesday 29 November 2017

Review: In The Nursery – '1961'


Since 1981 Sheffield duo Nigel & Klive Humberstone have released over two dozen albums that explore a myriad of sounds including post-punk, industrial, goth, darkwave, and neoclassical. Their latest release '1961' a sort of emotional-concept album that inspiration from the historic, literary and personal events of 1961 – the birth year of Nigel and Klive.

Over three decades of skill and refined talent is immediately evident from the opening bars of 'Until Before After'. Swelling classical instrumentation, melancholic folk, classic industrial/mechanical sounds, and gothic atmospheres are blended into a cinematic masterpiece of emotionally resonant musicianship.

1961 was a fertile year for a conceptual journey and the album takes in many stops such as the rise of the Berlin Wall, Yuri Gagarin's first manned space-flight, the novels 'Catch 22' and 'Solaris', and the founding of Amnesty International. Even a track built around a binaural and electromagnetic recordings of a 1961 Ford Consul - the engine resonating at the frequency 65 Hz in the note of C.

Tracks such as 'Until Before After', 'Grand Corridor', 'Retrofire', 'Solaris' , 'Prisoner Of Conscience', and 'The Earth Was Blue' really exemplify everything that is great about ITN. It doesn't matter if they're shifting from a soundscape to a folk song or back into a ballad, it is always done with expert musicianship and skill. There may not be any massive stylistic deviations or innovations from their recent output, but this shows just how well the band can take a concept and execute it.

Production-wise it is utterly stunning. It has the scope of a Hollywood soundtrack but still feels warm, personal and intimate throughout. Even at the album's most esoteric moments, such as 'Consul', it still feels understated and welcoming.

'1961' is another example of just what a treasure In The Nursery is. After 35 years the Humberstone brothers are still pushing boundaries, and experimenting with skill and intelligence. They are one of Sheffield's proudest musical legacies (and that is no mean feat giving the calibre of that city's musical heritage) and deserve their place in the history books.

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