Review: Nick Storring – Gardens

Nick Storring - GardensGardens begins like a bunch of zoo animals waking up – strange croaks of unused voices and e-bow drones rolling drowsily onto their side, ridding joints and cords of stiffness while softly announcing a re-emergence into consciousness. Baby mobile melodies come tentatively and then slump back beneath the burden of morning fatigue. I can instantly appreciate why Storring contacted me on the back of my review of Ashley Paul’s Line The Clouds; the album shares the same see-saw between melodic alignment and knotted disarray, with little pockets of clarity appearing amongst an ensemble that otherwise heaves with discomfort and stomach sickness. Those stretches of unease begin to feel beautiful after a while, as I come to see them as strength-gathering moans that herald in fleeting blooms of colour and symmetry. The music’s splendour is anxiously anticipated and, when it finally arrives in momentary glimpses, well-earned.

The album is the work of Storring alone, multi-tracking strings, guitars, objects, jew’s harp, percussion, bells and more into an “ensemble that would never likely exist in real life”. The illusion of real-time interaction is uncanny. Gardens doesn’t feel like a record of different time stretches overlain, but a solitary machine of interlocking pulleys and winches (pieces of dirty rope, creaking wooden joints, ungainly forward motion). Everything situates itself amidst the moment with genuine spatial sensitivity. The strings of “(Come To My) Thicket” peel off into atonal yawns and then slip back into parallel again, while the body of bowl resonance, woodwind and metals on “Unexpecting” shakes itself dry with a motion that runs snake-like down its own spine, rippling all the way from the neck to the hips; the music operates always as one. Albeit with long and endearing lapses in limb co-ordination.