I’ve played this new album by Nick Storring somewhere close to 50 times and it’s still weirdly and beautifully little more than a subtle drift in my brain. Whatever is actually going on through the 6 stretched out tracks, very little feels lodged in my memory. But is music only a success when it’s memorable? Music that broadly sits somewhere under the ambient tag always has this issue. Many have argued over the fundamental problem that it’s ultimately music to ignore, to sleep to or to sit so seamlessly in an environment, to be little more or less than other sounds in any given space.
My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell does however belie its soft ambient surfaces with a subtle but huge variety of twists and turns on a closer listen. The opener Tides That Defeat Identity carves out an achingly beautiful extended intro like late Talk Talk producing Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. The snaking figure around 3 minutes in rising like something light filled and celestial before morphing into a cutlery drawer in an earthquake. The second half weaves around a twinkling surge before bubbling off into unadorned strings.
Pretending You And I paints more ascending strings before aligning into a detailed drone. Again, the piece twists to reveal twinkling soft keys and a loungey groove fades in like some underwater dream sequence. So many sounds, instruments and elements all sanded down to be as amorphous as possible. Tonight There’ll Be No Distance Between Us collects smudged voices that twist into middle eastern forms that themselves shapeshift into swooping birds and strange firecrackers.
It seems that the album might well continue in this vein, but the next track turns the mood towards more defined and agitated forms. What A Made Up Mind Can Do spends the first half of its 10 minute life, wobbling itself awake before gathering into an ecstatic funk. The groove eventually crumbles, transporting your brain into a gamelan lined hall of mirrors…
The final two tracks, Now Neither One Of Us Is Breaking and My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell paint beautiful filmic arcs dusted with an odd electronic mist.
The press info included outlines that the album is for Storring, meant as a tribute to Roberta Flack, and as much a nod to her production alias Rubina Flake.
“The idea of paying tribute to Roberta Flack is an outgrowth of a larger theme within my music and the way I listen. I’ve grown fond of tracing connections between bodies of musical work that at first glance appear to have very little do with one another.”
Whilst I’m not greatly familiar with her work beyond the hits, these connections perhaps make clearer sense to someone that knows her work more keenly. What tracks like Tonight There’ll Be No Distance Between Us and that line from Flack’s duo with Peabo Bryson in Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You actually have in common is perhaps little more than a compositional arc or even just a feeling. Whatever the significance and connection is, Storring has bottled the essence and cultivated beautiful new forms in his petri dish.
Ultimately My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell is a superbly psychedelic tapestry of emotive threads. It’s that odd world that opens up when the settings for normality are subtly screwed with. Whilst its odd forward dynamic makes this album somehow anchor-less in the listeners brain initially, its huge and ultimately majestic beauty is worth persisting with and then living in a while.
My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell is out on March 27 via Orange Milk Records