In The Nursery
One constant in my life is a never-ending fascination with the music of In The Nursery…
They have performed and recorded since 1981 and at their core are twin brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone. I was lucky enough to meet and interview them for Exposed a couple of years ago, but had been a fan for years before that. I may have seen them in Bar One at the university Union, alongside bands such as They Must Be Russians and Artery back in the early eighties, but it was their much later film soundtrack work which first drew me into their world. The first one I saw was The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and after that I tried to see every one of their subsequent projects. What became their Optical Music series of project developed from there and saw them play the world over, providing the score to otherwise silent films.
My favourite, although it is hard to choose just one, was their score to The Passion of Joan of Arc, partly because the film itself is so moving, but also because of the surroundings for the debut performance.
The location was Sheffield’s cathedral, and their gothic sounds have never been more at one with both the on-screen image and architecture. The film itself is has an ‘other worldly’ quality, as, due to a disaster at the time, almost never existed. The original print was destroyed in a fire, and the film we see today was in fact pieced together from the out-takes; those shots not quite right for the directors vision, so what you see is a slightly edgy, not quite coherently-told story. This is all underscored by the truly incredible performance of the leading actor, Renee Falconetti, regarded by some historians as the single greatest performance ever put on film, and which was her only ever screen role.
Al this leads me to where I am today: listening to the latest ITN album. Always working at the overlap between art forms, their latest work, The Calling, is not what it might first seem. You may well be familiar with their film soundtracks, but here they’ve teamed up with another Sheffield luminary, best-selling crime writer Simon Beckett to release a thematic soundtrack to his David Hunter series of novels.
This is not an audio-book with atmospheric music, even though there are occasional extracts read by Simon Beckett, but an attempt to capture and evoke the atmosphere of his writing.
Atmospheric is what you expect from Klive and Nigel, and this does not disappoint. It echoes their movie soundtracks more than it does albums such as their last studio work, Blind Sound, as there are no lyrics to any of the music, apart from the author himself reading brief extracts They successfully combine the essence of Beckett’s gruesome yet compelling forensic detective fiction with studio recordings, binaural field recordings, and Foley sound designs. It may sound a little bizarre, but I’ve found it to be one of In The Nursery’s most instantly appealing albums.
Another first for Sheffield’s gothic ambient masters. I’ll let Simon himself have the last word from when he was interviewed in April last year:
'When the Sheffield neoclassical band IN THE NURSERY suggested collaborating on an album of music inspired by my David Hunter novels, I was immediately intrigued. Coming from Sheffield myself, I was familiar with ITN's work. Their music is dramatic, atmospheric and highly cinematic – all attributes I try to bring into my own writing. What we agreed on was to create something new: not an audiobook with background music but an instrumental soundtrack that takes its themes and tone from the David Hunter books. As such it's a unique project, and something that to the best of my knowledge hasn't been done before. Hopefully it will not only appeal to those familiar with the series, but also resonate with a wider audience.'
You can follow @InTheNursery for the latest new on the band's projects or visit their website here.