Something of a companion piece to Anatomy of a Poet, Lingua also features poetry predominantly on nearly every track. As the title suggests, though, the difference is that language is actually the key focus on this album; the selections are from a wide variety of tongues, including Friulano, an obscure Italian dialect, Serbian and Mayan, among more well known languages as Spanish, French and Japanese. As with just about everything ITN seem to do, the end result is a smashing success. "Poema," the leadoff track, stands as one of the best examples in years of the Humberstone's sweeping, dramatic orchestral beauty, vast without ever seeming bombastic, while also featuring such key side players as Crowther, Lindemann and Dolores Marguerite. Snare drum appears as well, though for the second full ITN album in a row Q is missing in action, replaced by Carl Williams, who does a sufficient job. Lingua practically becomes an embarrassment of riches by the end, so passionate is the music and the intertwining with the poems; "I Ask for Grace," a Serbian anti-war lament read by a native speaker, is matched by an emotional, heartbreaking arrangement, while the Japanese contribution "Shonen No Hi," read by another native speaker through a slight but interesting layer of distortion, has the music move to the same gentle pace for the reading. The Humberstone's continued exploration of the beat comes to the fore as well on tracks like "Mute Harmony" and the grand instrumental "Profundus," featuring an echoed hollow percussion rhythm combined with abbreviated hip-hop breaks beneath a serene arrangement featuring whalesong noises (a language as well, of course!). Perhaps unsurprisingly by now, ITN again creates a marvelous, artistic and unique album.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett