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Album Review

The Humberstone brothers' first out and out masterpiece, L'Esprit remains as compelling and lovely an album as it did upon initial release. Taking their love of the dramatic, romantic, and theatrical to even greater heights, their musical complexity was never so involved before, their sense of creating soul-tugging beauty never so fully realized. Right from the opener — "To the Faithful," featuring a now-rare but all the more effective-for-it vocal from the Humberstones over a forceful but never strident string line accentuated by horns and Q's excellent drumming — L'Esprit is truly a soundtrack to an non-existent film. The potential to dream up any amount of climactic scenes or meaningful visual passages to go with such solid pieces as the choral-accompanied "Azure Wings," or the storm-cloud-laden "Retaliation," with its rolling beginning and stately pace, reveals itself time and again. Wisely, ITN step back from creating solely epic pieces here, allowing for the slightly jazz/French pop feel of "Sesudient," with appropriate vocals from Dolores Marguerite, as well as other slight changes from the norm. The big change here, though, is an increasing allowance for the subtlest of touches to help drive many of the pieces, as with a series of harp flourishes on "Soeurette," as well as simply toning things down in general. Far from weakening the effect of the music, it makes L'Esprit that much more enjoyable by means of variety. One piece always seems to especially stand out per album; here "Scenes of Childhood" is the clear winner, with a low pulse heralding a simply beautiful string line that gently develops throughout the song. [The ITN Corporation re-release has three extra tracks, "Archaic Torso," "Blade," and "Incidental Guilt."]


Formed: 1981 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Formed in Sheffield, England by brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone in 1981, In the Nursery explored a strange fusion of industrialized military rhythms and classical and film soundtrack music. Devoted more to the former in their early years, the band debuted in 1983 with the mini-album When Cherished Dreams Come True, also contributing to several compilations over the next two years. After the 1985 Temper EP, the group's initial lineup had evaporated, leaving only the Humberstone brothers to record...
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L'esprit, In the Nursery
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