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A synth player who leaves a popular Aussie band, St Helens, to explore the possibilities of himself with his machines? Sounds like a fairly risky set-up. But the short-lived indie band’s ex-songwriter/singer/guitarist/keyboardist has crafted a sophisticated string of sounds on the album first put out by Sensory Projects – and now released by Hardly Art, which apparently thinks enough of Jarrod Quarrell, aka Lost Animal, to do so without any bonus material, let alone a suggestion that he change his tongue-twisting birth name.

Ex Tropical deftly transposes and layers acoustic piano with synthetic sounds; weaving a just-gripping-enough tapestry with bass, percussion, and Quarrell’s salt-on-the-wound tenor vocals. The cumulative effect is surprisingly transporting. Quarrell delves deep into relationships and situations old and new (including his youthful time in Papua New Guinea), armed with inventive lyrics and passionate outbursts that hit their targets — our psyches — in an atmosphere that initially presents as low-key musings. Quarrell’s inherently eccentric expressiveness recalls John Cale, Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, and Nick Drake. The heat? Only Tom Verlaine (and Television’s first album), Richard Hell, and Julee Cruise seem to have shared a similar passage. Together, those elements add up to an album that might be reissued in perpetuity.

  • Album: Ex Tropical
  • Artist: Lost Animal
  • Label: Hardly Art
  • Songs: (1) (Intro) Beat Goes On, (2) Say No to Thugs, (3) Buia Raskol, (4) Don’t Litter, (5) Cold Cut Nature, (6) Ex Tropical, (7) Lose the Baby, (8) Greylands, (9) Old Lovers, (10) Sundown
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