Nick Storring’s last solo album, My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell, demonstrated the Toronto composer/multi-instrumentalist’s masterful use of multitracked instruments for the optimization of color and texture. Like My Magic Dreams, Newfoundout, Storring’s new offering, is a solo work of painstakingly composed sounds in vibrant layers, but unlike the earlier album, it pushes rhythm and percussion to the forefront.
Each of the seven compositions on Newfoundout is named for a Canadian ghost town. Although the pieces apparently aren’t intended as program works “describing” these towns—which Storring notes he’s never visited—they do have a cinematic sweep suggesting open vistas.
With Dome, the first track, the album opens in a splash of cymbals giving way to a repeated short melodic motif, which develops over a bed of expansive electronics and a polyphony of drums with delay. Dome Extension follows, with Dome’s motifs translated into rhythms. Although Storring uses both acoustic and quasi-electronic percussion with a strong emphasis on their color effects, on Vroomanton and Frood, as on Dome Extension, he has them spell out explicitly defined rhythms; on Frood he augments them with plucked and struck strings. The focus in Khartum, by contrast, is on a reverberant Fender Rhodes piano in a setting tonally exotic yet discordant around the edges.
The album closes with the title track, whose melancholic electronic drone, punctuated by chimes and tolling bells, could well stand as an elegy to that abandoned town and the others along with it.
A simply beautiful album of vividly imaginative music.