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Electric Edwardians

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Album Review

The latest in In the Nursery's series of soundtracks for silent films, Electric Edwardians is in respects the most unusual, partially because it is not in fact for a film of that title. Instead, the source material is a collection of films, The Mitchell and Kenyon Collection, a series of short pieces (only one is longer than three minutes) from early-20th century England taken of various real-life settings and people. Song titles like "Butterworth & Sons," "Blackpool Victoria Pier," and "Tram Ride into Halifax" capture the flavor of the selections, giving the Humberstone brothers a chance to practice their striking art of beautiful and melancholic compositions. As has been their recent practice, their core synth work is matched with help from side performers, notably regular collaborator Henrik Linnemann on various flutes, resulting in a rich texture combining quietly rigorous arrangements and room for a bit of individual flair. While shifting in mood and tempo throughout — the playful flutes and piano of "Morecambe Church Lads Brigade" and staccato strings of "Elswick Works" contrast with the gentle gambol of "Preston Egg Rolling" — Electric Edwardians as a whole is surprisingly consistent, suggesting a literal lost world preserved only in these snippets. It's hard to call music "nostalgic" on the face of it, but that's nonetheless the aura created here, as slow minor chords and string-heavy arrangements suggest one lost vignette after another. Every so often there's a break into what sounds like source music for what could be on-screen — a carousel, perhaps, or a band — but not in a sudden or intrusive way. Nothing specifically suggests, say, Elgar circa The Enigma Variations, but in its way Electric Edwardians finds a unique balance between past and future.


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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Electric Edwardians, In the Nursery
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