Nick Storring
CD (E121)

Rife is Nick Storring’s recorded debut. It contains three
electronic works: Artifacts (2007–9); Indices of Refraction
(2005–11); Outside, Summer is Bursting at the Seams

Artifacts, in eight parts, draws its source material entirely
from a near-broken student-grade violin that was given
to Storring by his grandmother prior to him beginning cello
lessons at age four. The instrument became mostly a wall
ornament for the best part of 22 years, until the composition
of this piece. Given the quality and decrepitude of the instru-
ment, it meant the sonic possibilities were quite open: from
tuning the instrument up and bowing/pluck­ing, to moving
the bridge around, to scraping the varnish off with a micro-
phone (the opening of the first section) to tapping the body,
and even shuffling the instrument across the floor. To match
this wide array of sounds, various types of processing were
also employed: everything from ‘proper’ computer manipul-
ation to the recording onto a dictaphone whose power
supply was short­ing out.
  The first section of the work won the 2008 Jeux de Temps/
Times Play competition for emerging electroacoustic Canadian
composers and subsequently led to the piece being played at
various electroacoustic music festivals across the world. The
entire 28-minute work made its debut at the 2010 Toronto
Electroacoustic Symposium.

Nick Storring is a Toronto-based composer. His work has
been performed by the Esprit Orchestra, Quatuor Bozzini,
and accompanied the MT Space’s play The Last 15 Seconds
on its national tour and throughout the Middle East. Inter-
active piece Tentacles, featuring Storring’s music and sound
design, is showing at MoMA this summer and autumn. He is
also a member of the bands Picastro, I Have Eaten The City,
son jarocho collective Café Con Pan, and regularly plays with
Gardenia (aka Bryan Walker of Gates). In his Piège guise
Storring is currently finishing an album of dance tracks. He
is a recent winner of the Canadian Music Centre’s Toronto
Emerging Composer Award.

Edition of 300 copies
Out of print

Photos by Karol Orzechowski (top)
and Nick Storring


Remarkably, the sound for Artifacts, the first of three compo-
sitions that make up Rife, is entirely sourced from a small,
broken violin that was a childhood gift to Storring from his
grandmother. From these initial sound samples, Storring
builds a piece of music that is incredibly engaging and rich
in detail. Equal parts virtuosic playing — the violin sounds
like a range of stringed instruments, including the guzheng,
the rebab, and the cello — and inventive processing, Arti-
facts is a beautiful assemblage of sounds and textures,
moving from one distinct passage to another in a strikingly
fluid and intuitive way. The track Indices of Refraction
follows, with a fourteen-minute digital interweave. In this
piece, Storring samples a wider range of instruments and
moves quickly between different qualities of sound. It is
a slightly older composition than Artifacts and Storring is
clearly both learning the tools and having fun here,
cleverly allowing disparate elements to clatter against
each other in a series of surprising turns. The CD’s last
piece, Outside, Summer is Bursting at the Seams,
returns to one sound source — his cello — treated with
live electronics. The surges of sound move a bit towards
the triumphalist, but based on Artifacts, there’s a lot to
be proud of, and Storring can be forgiven for celebrating
a little too hard in the end zone.

Chris Kennedy in Music works

Storring seems quite a versatile composer, having written
work performed by instrumental musicians such as Quatuor
Bozzini before, and regularly recording dance music under
the name Piege, but the pieces of music included here are
all electroacoustic works, with the first eight tracks forming
a piece made between 2007 and 2008 named Artifacts, and
the other two tracks containing one piece each, with the
closing piece, 2007’s Outside, Summer is Bursting at the
Seams preceded by a piece begun in 2005 and completed
in 2011 called Indices of Refraction. Storring, it would seem,
isn’t a fast worker. Artifacts then, the main work here at
first appeared to me to be digitally composed must made up
from instrumental recordings of various kinds. This isn’t in-
correct, but reading the Entr’acte site I was amazed to find
that all of the raw audio material used on this eight part
suite was sourced from a single studio grade violin Storring
had been given at the age of four. Now close to completely
broken, the violin was scratched, tapped, bowed and its
varnish scraped away with a microphone to capture the
sounds that Storring has fed through assorted forms of
computer processing and sequencing to create the music
we find here. The resulting work varies a great deal, but for
much of the time we hear traces of the violin in its various
guises through dramatically active swathes and scrawls of
digital abstraction. In places the music sounds like the
recent energetic rampages of John Wall, never attempting
to hide the digitalisation of the sounds, but the instrumental
elements are never so far away that they rise back up and
remind us that not everything here is computer generated.
  The opening segment of Artifacts is really great, really
vibrant and bristling with energy, the sounds sounding like
they are gushing from the speakers here, things bursting
out and shapeshifting into wild and wonderful forms. The
later parts of the work, which were apparently added later
lose something of the initial vibrancy and instead take on
a slightly more musical shape, with a kind of middle eastern
feel to the bowed music at one point, again riddled with
digital distortion but to a lesser degree, and on one brief
section the violin’s body is tapped with fingers and recorded
closely so as to resemble very closely the sound of bongo
drums. I prefer the passion of the opening section, but
these later parts still work very well.

Richard Pinnell at The Watchful Ear

These tracks include a fantastic use of extended instru-
mental and digital techniques mixed and constructed to
produce a rather massive listening experience. This record
is organised into eight tracks all entitled Artifacts and two
additional tracks. Artifacts highlights a collection of recorded
and manipulated sounds using a captivatingly creative use
of an old ‘nearly-broken’ student violin. Storring explores
the conventions of this particular instrument by finding
new ways to produce sounds that are not typically associ-
ated with the violin. This instrumental exploration ranges
from scraping the strings to sliding the instrument across
the floor. Each Artifact is extremely varying in form and
complexion. Some tracks sustain a morphing drone-
like element with a massive collage of recorded musical
gestures and sounds. Other tracks resemble manipulated
field recordings from across the world. The broad variance
between each track in this electroacoustic piece gives
a wonderful sense of wholeness and collectivity. The
electronic sounds throughout this record are interestingly
configured. The deliberate corruption of MP3 files and
even the harshly noisy static events appear surprisingly
musical in the context of the recording, juxtaposed with
more conventional recorded acoustic material. The two
remaining tracks on this recording resemble a more pop-
ular musical aesthetic. They sometimes expose a very
slowly developing harmonic progression, meanwhile still
expressing a rather densely configured sound space. Like
the Artifacts, these two pieces include ornamentation
and instrumentation of world-music styles. The similarity
fits these tracks very precisely into the context of this
album as a whole.

Sandro Manzon in The Music Times

Rife, a recent solo release on the adventurous British label
Entr’acte, features electronic compositions created over
the past six years. Artifacts takes as its main sound source
a ‘near-broken’ 7/8 size violin given to the composer by
his grandmother. After nearly 22 years as a wall ornament
the instrument became the inspiration for this extended
suite. Although we are occasionally aware of the sound
of the violin being plucked or bowed, for the most part
the source is obscured by extensive electronic processing,
computer manipulation, recording onto a dictaphone whose
power supply was shorting out and the use of intentionally
damaged CDRs and deliberately corrupted MP3 files. The
other works are Indices of Refraction (2005–11) which
uses various instruments, field recordings and mixer feed-
back, and Outside, Summer is Bursting at the Seams which
cites only cello but the sounds here are every bit as varied
as those in the other compositions. This is an intriguing
release by a young composer/performer well worthy of
our attention.

David Olds at The Whole Note

As a compilation of Storring’s electroacoustic variété, Rife
hints at the hidden majesty lurking within his many mental
membranes. The searing vision lies between the strung
wisdom of his violin and the electroacoustic prowess harnes-
sed by modern digitalia; dense ethnographic footprints
imprinted within our curious minds. The heavy THX moves
coalesce within beds of a private world processed for our
unguided meditation. A valiant expression of creative
experimentalism worth all the honours stowed upon him.
Freeze-dried for a gripper’s safe keeping.

Aaron Levin at Weird Canada

Storring is a Toronto-based cellist and electronicist and I
think this is my first encounter with his music. It’s a reason-
ably juicy one. The music also diverges from what might
expect after the first few moments, when I was guessing at
a post-modern cello set augmented by electronics, but occupy-
ing a fairly abstract area. Not so. Quite quickly, the kitchen
sink is duly thrown in and the subsequent music incorporates
eastern tropes, zither, lush electronica, beats and much else.
If I had to make a single comparison, it would be to Fennesz,
whose influence looms large, especially insofar as general tone,
but Storring, in these ten tracks (which I read as a suite) is
even less constrained, seemingly willing to drift wherever the
‘moment’ takes him. This has its pluses and minuses. I find
myself enjoying it in large part even as I question how much
depth is there. It's sonic candy to an extent, tasty and easily
digested if, perhaps, lacking in required vitamin department.
  Still, well worth a listen and one of those discs that could
provide a gentle avenue into deeper realms for innocent ears.

Brian Olewnick at Just Outside

Artifacts is one of three bodies of work found here, and the
content of this material reads very well: a series of short
electroacoustic compositions sourced from a dilapidated violin
that had been sitting on Nick Storring’s wall for more than
two decades. The results showcase every single trick in the
codeslinger’s playbook with extreme dynamics upon the
granulation, time stretching and sample scrubbing techniques.
He arrived at one fantastic idea on Artifact 1 which drags a
desolate Transylvanian melody from the violin through a lo-
tech filter of half-functioning dictaphone and back into the
digital realm; but the rest of the Artifacts tend to be too
baroque for their own good. Storring’s other two pieces
included here are painterly if saccharine explorations into
digital techniques, with the shiny-happy glissandos of
constantly dissolving ones and zeros on Indices Of Refraction
speaking to the piles of demos that must have littered the
desks of Mego and Mille Plateaux around 2000 when glitch
worship was it at its peak.

Jim Haynes in The Wire

Nick Storring’s latest release on UK label Entr’acte collects
recordings from 2005–11. Recordings that to me sound like
gusts of brackish gale opening and closing haunted house
doors hanging on their limpid hinges — no knobs. With each
surge the door creaks into life, rusty metal croaking on metal
in hasty flux... A chorus of specter groans like those heard
in the holographic mind of a future Ghoul School graduate.
But with each opening comes a theme unlike the one before
it. The room that contains it fills with light, Royal Pine car
fresheners, gurgling mayonnaise (replete with breathing
bubbles), power tools, other people’s memories diffused with
the soupy starlight of bygone eras coming through the void...
Any and all these things, or none of the above. Stepping
into the room your senses become confused, like you were
tumbling down the incline from dreamland into wakefulness.
Events take on new meanings or else become something
seemingly unrelated without losing the basic character of
what they were before. Ethereal wind chimes dented with
the neglect of time peel back and splinter apart like bamboo
that is soaked in the salty tears of a room-sized calculator
overheating in the Mojave Desert on the shoot of a Holly-
wood movie about greasy young dilettantes finding them-
selves through fits of exhaustion and sunstroke. Their raspy
whining — cactus spines on mummy paper, magnified —
each gesture earthquake proportions in the restless, chafing
lunacy of a mind ravaged by endless, unchanging space.
  Storring is on the righteous path. His statement is complete
and to my ears falls somewhere between Pierre Henry’s
Variations for a Door and a Sigh and some the stifled
digital flourishes I’ve heard Christian Fennesz muster with
his sinewy chops. I don’t mind calling this a contemporary
classic, not at all.

Andrew Zukerman in Offerings