Animal Expert unfolds through an elegantly opaque, almost inscrutable logic—one which gradually overpowers, rather than satisfies, one’s desire for an audible syntax. Distinct, indelible impressions begin to form: the odours and dimensions of a particular space, the feeling of holding an object in one’s hand; yet these fleeting associations converge unexpectedly or even disappear before they can be fully ascertained.
The album’s volatile succession of hyper-vivid auditory scenarios—crafted meticulously from both audio-verité and synthetic sound—manages to be tumultuously evocative while projecting staunch phlegmatic ambiguity.
On the surface, Strickland’s approach to the material seems not to acknowledge the expressive capacities of its constituent elements. Various species of oppressively loud, serrated noise, burst forth throughout the disc, but are stripped of any context for them to be read as violent. Conversely, a naked recording of gentle footsteps within a small room exudes an intimacy that remains sealed within that singular moment.
For all its apparent discontinuity, the pacing of the works affords ample time for one to savour each rich scene before it dissolves into the next (or is eradicated outright). Elements or reminiscences of them resurface, too—often mysteriously. Ultimately there’s a sense of alien poignancy that gathers over time. While the trajectory of each of the three works here confounds and even disturbs the listener, the particular colour and sensation of each event within them is so irrefutable that one’s memory cannot help but cling to them.
It’s a startlingly unique debut from an artist whose diverse practice as a sound artist, improviser, and composer will undoubtedly gain further recognition.