(New Album Review) Chris Strickland- Animal Expert

Animal Expert, the debut full-length release from Montreal sound artist Chris Strickland, comes highly recommended to all enthusiasts of noise and musique concrète. The album was released in October on the Vancouver-based label Caduc and was mastered by Joe Pantzer. I am not sure why Chris seemed slightly unsure of his album when he made his submission to me: it’s quite solid.

Though it’s only about an hour long, Animal Expert feels monstrously epic– it takes one on a queasy, unsettling, slightly terrifying electro-acoustic trip. And the auditory beacons with which we have to make do are few and far between: a rocket firing off, liquids slowly sipped, birdsongs, a low male voice, a cat’s ominously amplified purr… these are the recurring reassurances that bookend the sometimes chaotic, sometimes oddly lulling trills, rustlings, and eruptions of the album’s three pieces. Strickland makes extreme sound art that’s nonetheless intended for sensitive ears that will appreciate the silence and near-silence that he returns to again and again — for this work he worked by mixing fellow sound artist Joda Clément’s field recordings with digitally created noise as well as tones created with both acoustic and electronic instruments. The result is a riveting, desolate odyssey.

This is a highly impressive debut. I look forward to Stickland’s future efforts.

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