New Music Premiere:
Words: Steve Smith
Image: Green Yang
Asked to explain how a Roberta Flack song title had provided a springboard for his project, Storring offered the following thoughts via e-mail:
The line comes from the Van McCoy song “Sweet Bitter Love,” which closes Flack’s 1971 album Quiet Fire. It’s arguably the most gut-wrenchingly sad moment in Roberta Flack’s entire discography. There’s something about those words that so perfectly captures one of heartbreak’s lesser-discussed features: the destruction of one’s sense of wonder. Flack brings it to life perfectly, delivering with stately elegance but also in a manner that’s almost wide-eyed. Initially, she’s heard alone, singing at the piano, but eventually William Eaton’s arrangement suddenly erupts into a huge shiver of strings. That moment destroys me every time.
My composition that uses this title was the second last work on my album to be finished, and as it reached completion, the album’s larger arc started to form. I knew after listening back that this had to close the album. It had a sense of completion and longing to it that made sense there.
None of these tracks were conceived as direct replies to compositions in Flack’s repertoire, and this piece is no exception. I think it has a far more hopeful quality than “Sweet Bitter Love”, and is also considerably lusher than its sister-song. However, there are things they share. One unintentional but notable similarity is in the way both tracks usher the listener out of the confines of the album. The final section of each starts with a large broad gesture that fairly rapidly diminishes in intensity. The final moment of each piece is a bit like watching an embers’ last bit of light and heat seep out. Even after the music’s completely gone, there’s a faint spectral glow that’s still there in the mind’s ear (at least for me). Maybe that’s subconsciously why I sequenced it at the end.
Storring also shared his thoughts about the beautiful video:
I asked my multi-talented friend (since high school), artist Ellie Anglin to create a video for me, after seeing the stop-motion collage marvels she had crafted for others, including Eiyn Sof. When she delivered the final piece I was awestruck by how detailed and organic it felt. I also loved how there was some gentle friction between the music and images, even in how they’re produced. My methodology, like hers, is very hands-on, but uses acoustic instruments as its foundation, whereas her contents are “sampled” (to use music terminology.) Ellie’s decision to bring out some of the latent playfulness and humour through Dada-esque non-sequiturs was surprising to me in the best possible way. Yet overall, the video and piece share a foundation in the evocative and surreal. I’m so grateful for her hard work, generosity, and creative genius.
My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell, due March 27 on Orange Milk, is available to pre-order now on Bandcamp.