In The Nursery  ‘Stormhorse’  (Sweatbox, 1987) 

I can remember exactly what I wasn’t doing the first time I heard In The Nursery’s ‘Stormhorse’ album. I wasn’t sitting in my pants and socks on my unmade bed in a ramshackle room in a ramshackle house in what was then a very broken part of London. No, no, no, I wasn’t doing that at all. 

Instead, I was running along a pristine white beach, a revolver clutched tightly in my hand, the sea crashing around me, the wild wind ripping through my lungs, my heart pumping fit to burst. There was no way it was going to burst, though. I was at the centre of the greatest story ever told and I’d never felt more alive. 

Three decades on, the magical transportive powers of ‘Stormhorse’ have lost none of their strength. It was In The Nursery’s second full-length album, released two years after Klive and Nigel Humberstone’s 1985 debut, ‘Twins’, a record that had secured the Sheffield-based brothers a position at the top table of the industrial milieu. This album, however, took ITN to a very different place. ‘Twins’ had incorporated a number of orchestral elements, but ‘Stormhorse’ was full-on classical music, albeit via electronic means. Well, neo-classical to be more accurate, although I don’t believe I was even aware of the existence of the “neo” tag back then.  

Whatever you want to call this music – if you want to get really finicky, it’s been dubbed the first neo-classical dark wave record – ‘Stormhorse’ is a completely absorbing work. The energy of the symphonic synth sweeps and swirls – oppressive In ‘The Empty Fortress’, uplifting In ‘Dolente’ – is unstoppable and is regularly fuelled by the rat-a-tat-tat of a militaristic snare, the drumming courtesy of a musician known only as Q. Most of the pieces here are instrumental, but one of the standout tracks is ‘Subito-Regal: Miracle Of The Rose I’, which features a spoken word contribution from Dolores Marguerite C. She’s still part of the ITN set-up today. 

In more ways than one, ‘Stormhorse’ set ITN on a path they have been following ever since. At the time, the Humberstones described it as a soundtrack to an imaginary film, which made sense given the intensely cinematic quality of the material. So it’s interesting that they’ve contributed music a large number of real movies over the last quarter of a century. Their credits include ‘Interview With The Vampire’, ‘The Aviator’ and ‘Gran Torino’, as well as TV shows like ‘La Femme Nikita’ and ‘Game Of Thrones’.

What is perhaps most notable about ‘Stormhorse’ is how well it’s stood the passage of time. Part of that is to do with the sumptuous and sparkling production. There’s also the fact that the world has caught up with In The Nursery and their music makes more sense in the context of today’s flourishing neo-classical movement than it did in the post-post-punk and pre-acid days of 1987. Plus there’s those magical transportive powers, of course. 

And with that in mind, you will have to excuse me now. I need to find my revolver and get down to the beach. I’ve got some running to do. 

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Paddy Mcaloon

In 1991, Prefab Sprout frontman Paddy Mcaloon was struck down with serious illness that led to perhaps his boldest work, 2003’s ‘I Trawl The Megahertz’, a fever-dream of skittish longing that deserves ear time