Review Summary: In The Nursery focus on the mellower parts of their classically inspired music, and add an increased emphasis on the poetry of earlier albums.
In music there are literally thousands of bands that sound alike and they’re all trying to get in on the next big thing in order to make a quick buck. Even in genres that aren’t known for making bands money, it’s easy to find at least a dozen bands that are all far too similar in their sound and execution. For some maybe this realization doesn’t bother them because that means they can buy multiple albums from different bands instead of having to wait for just one artist to release another offering, but for others this realization sets off a search to see what else might be out there. I personally reacted the second way years ago and began a search for unique music. In that search I’ve found some very good bands including Mr. Bungle
to things such as The Future Sound of London
and Aphex Twin
. Also during that search I stumbled across this band called In the Nursery
In the Nursery play a style of music that I’ve never heard from any other band before them. The music itself is almost entirely electronic except for some of the beats. This description might make them sound like any other electronica band, but they’re not. The electronics are used to recreate classical instruments such as violins, horns, cellos, and anything else you might hear in an orchestra. In fact the recreation is so good that if you didn’t know better you might think that you were listening to the actual physical instruments and not their electronic recreation. In addition to the classical influences, they also use synths, samples, electronic bass lines, piano, and to enhance the atmosphere of the songs and lend them a modern feel.
While almost all the music is electronic, more often than not the beats are recreated by live percussion; more specifically the type of percussive instruments you’d find in a marching band. The percussion itself retains the elements you’d expect from their use in a marching band too. They’re rhythmic and dynamic when they need to be and very subtle providing nothing more then slight accentuation when that is what the music calls for. When the percussion is not done by physical instruments, the electronic beats still basically retain that same vibe, never really veering into any type of generic techno beat. As varied as the musical output is, it’s the vocals that add that extra small something.
Over the classically-inspired music is generally one of two vocalists; one male and one female. The male vocalist’s output is almost entirely spoken word similar to the spoken word parts on Ulver
’s album, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
, except he actually uses inflection and emotion in his words to avoid coming off as monotone. His voice is clear, crisp, deep and animated allowing the words to actually come to life over the music. In the Nursery’s female vocalist also does spoken word parts in addition to subtle singing similar to the mellower vocals on any Enya
album. The lyrics or poetry in the songs are done in either English or French, adding a more exotic element to them. The actual content of the poetry varies from song to song but generally seems to be telling a story of some sort of tragedy or loss; however, due to the French lyrics I can’t say for sure if it’s a concept album or just a themed album.
In the past In the Nursery had songs that ranged the spectrum from intense military marching-type songs to more relaxed mournful songs over which the occasional vocals would be featured. On this album, they seem to have decided to try an entire album of mellow songs coupled with an increased amount of poetry. The first song on the album, “Bombed”, is a very good representation of what to expect. It’s a mellow song with female vocals sung in both French and English over a lone synth line, and an arrangement of stringed instruments. It works really well to set the mood and will definitely have you feeling relaxed. The next track is the title track and features spoken word poetry done by their male vocalist. This song is a little more intense as it has the military snare drums and more bombastic music as a whole, slowing down for the poetry parts before breaking into the military drums again. As the album progresses they continue to expertly weave the different elements together in different ways, such as in “In Perpetuum” where they have a chill electronic beat, a multitude of classically-influenced sounds, a deep synth line and a duet between the two vocalists. Overall, this is a very good album, but there are some problems.
This album’s main problem is that there is supposed to be a whole other style of songs that are missing from this release (the bombastic military-style songs). That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the songs they chose to include except that the music is so mellow that by the end of the CD the songs have all faded into the background. Also, due to the increased use of spoken word poetry, some of the songs start to sound overly similar despite the fact that musically they’re still varied. If they had just included a few of their more bombastic songs in place of a few mellow ones it would have really helped the pace of the album.
It’s hard to say who might like this band and this album. You basically have to ask yourself if electronic music played under a heavily classically-inspired influence containing English and French poetry is for you. For most the answer is probably “no”, but for those adventurous enough to at least answer “maybe” you may find a band that sounds like no other, for better or worse. This particular album suffers from the lack of their whole other style of songs, as well as the fact that it starts sounding too similar by the end. Due to those faults, you might be better off starting with, Sense
, but overall this is still a fairly good representation of the band.