Every segment of Newfoundout is like a 360º bubble of sounds overlapping, a form of ear only virtual reality. Sounds made of similar things, different sounds following the same pattern, ebbing and flowing, smudged and vectored. 64 illusionary minutes that describe thousands of episodic blocks, interlocking with their partners in an endless dazzle of creativity.
Every time we’ve hit play on Newfoundout, it’s had us grinning in stunned amazement.
Last year’s My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell, Storring’s previous album was on our best of 2020 list. The warmth and dreaminess of that beautiful recording still revealing odd details as it slowly smoulders. As someone not very familiar with the Canadian’s work before the previous album, news of this one had us thinking simply more of the same or a light overall tweak would be fantastic.
However, it’s fair to state, Newfoundout casts a darker shadow than its heady predecessor. But this isn’t anything to feel remotely apprehensive about, what we have is nothing short of a completely immersive sonic adventure.
The 13-minute opener Dome spends minutes growing into a lopsided spiralling gong. Pizzicato stabbing, percussive barnacles and a slow gathering of all sorts of weirdness. Tapping and vocal mist before cavernous drumming, opening out into a far east temple. Another void opens as upright gamelan Tetris meshes in but with huge electronics tugged under everything. The music is like a magnet sucking anything into its field of view. Everything sounds amazing, but nothing makes any sense.
It would seem that Dome Extension might offer some clarity as the presumed extra part of the opener. But here again, another layer of Storring’s construction is revealed in some background matrix. These titles are in fact all ghost towns in Ontario. Places that once were communities, now at varying stages of being returned to nature.
These tracks aren’t some sound art reimagining of places but more a construction of liminal spaces.
Frood locks into a bouncing ball groove, that’s like mountain top monks locked into a form of post nirvana electronica. Again, the sense of imperfection, overlapping and weird clipped edges adding into a powerful illusion. Khartum rolls in, like banks of jazz infused smoke, before birthing beautiful thick arcs of orchestral soup and lysergic twinkles.
The 14 minutes of Silver Centre initially feels like a shaving of Morricone imperceptibly moving forward in a heat haze. Eventually the tension is broken with a traffic jam of harmonicas before huge Shepard tone of abstract silt builds.
Vroomanton focuses with its clusters of rhythmic blocks, tiny droplets married to huge metallic shimmering’s. Drum and bass spectres heave and writhe as the whole thing builds towards some wildly detailed wonky peak.
Whilst everything, so far, has been nothing short of spectacular, this breath-taking adventure amazingly tears the roof off in the closing title track. Quite possibly, by this point, your mind is putty in Storring’s hands and the 12 minutes of Newfoundout is nothing short of majestic. From a matrix of pure sparkling energy, it expands into a squeaking orchestral wormhole before folding in on itself. Even the thick pregnant silence is completely intoxicating as it slowly reorganises itself. Finally, like reaching a distant new planet, the whole thing in the last few minutes converges in vast interplanetary spheres of pure energy…
The album has deep fried our brains several times in the most pleasant way. It’s easy to visualise several parts as some huge budget orchestral project with dozens of players, and even more instruments. But the feeling rises that almost nothing here has come easy. This, after all, is a lock down album and built at home.
What is staggering here, is the thought of Storring regarding his Toronto home as a palette. The kitchen utensils, those boxes in the cupboard, all the stuff, and instruments he has to hand and how to liberate sound from them.
The micro becomes macro, chopped, sliced and baked in odd ways to extract and defy origins as this weird new, but completely creative, world built out of illusion. Each track, a zone constructed of endless curiosity.
Newfoundout is hard to define and this is a huge part of its magnetism. A complete mystery, but again and again creating pools of spline tingling momentum, creating tangents spiralling off into infinite other things and at the same time – unlike any of them.
Several times, this album offers up things that feel like completely new musical ground. Getting lost in these bizarrely conjured places is hugely recommended.
Newfoundout is released on mappa on 30 July digitally and on CD.