In the Nursery


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While brothers Klive and Nigel Humberstone gained the most attention for their work due to their explorations in a rich, orchestrated sound that became associated with film soundtracks and commissions, In the Nursery started life as a classically post-punk rock band of its time and place -- northern England in the early '80s. The material on Aubade, mostly covering their initial EP and single releases from 1983 to 1985, had previously been featured on earlier compilations and CD reissues, particularly Prelude and Twins; presented in this new collection, the effect is to demonstrate how rapidly the band evolved from its stark beginnings to an unsettling theatricality in a short period of time. It's also a handy showcase for original member Ant Bennett, who left the group after the release of the Temper EP in 1985. The initial When Cherished Dreams Come True mini-album tracks, recorded in a burst of studio activity over two days' time, are classic instances of making the most of limited resources, but songs like "Mystery," remade years later in their later style, and "A to I" nicely showcase the band's overt worship of atmospheric acts like the Comsat Angels and Joy Division. The shift from more formal, familiar song structures to the fractured loops and screams of a song like "Breach Birth" or the stark declamatory tone of "Lost Prayer" easily demonstrates how In the Nursery gained their industrial reputation, even while also showing their interest in detailed arrangements that would come further to the fore over the course of the decade. As a fascinating bonus, the disc concludes with the title track -- quite literally the first song performed at the group's live debut in 1981. Brisk-sounding, perhaps thanks to the recording quality, the song also possesses a flute part that, in its own way, helped to suggest where the Humberstones would end up, even if only at the very farthest remove.