‘High Anxiety’ is punchy, ethereal instrumental hip-hop from Alt-J drummer Thom Sonny Green.
During Alt-J’s tours, their percussionist has quietly been keeping himself busy on two fronts by producing an LP of his own. Thom Sonny Green’s ambitious debut solo album is a concoction of ambient, trappy triphop soundscapes which sway between creations of intrigue, beauty and confusion.
The one-word names of the songs on ‘High Anxiety’ – often those of cities visited by the band whilst touring – are representative of an artist on the move, who has limited time to expand on concepts or even track titles fully. There are clear parallels between this LP and ‘The Fall’, by Damon Albarn/Gorillaz. Like ‘The Fall’, the result seems rushed and incomplete at times, but is a showcase of experimentation and undeniable ability to produce quality electronic music.
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Throughout ‘High Anxiety’, sharp hi-hats, balanced snare hits and dubby kick drums are surrounded by ambient feedback loops and crude background sounds. This creates earthy, raw tones despite their synthetic production. At their best, the broad, atmospheric, yet crisp beats are reminiscent of DJ Shadow and Eno combined.
Textural, multi-layered melodies in ‘Vienna’, ‘Ping’ and ‘vvvv’ stand out in particular, as more well-refined tracks. ‘Phoenix’ is a beautiful arrangement of strings and cascading synth tones doused in reverb.
There are 21 songs to get through, though, with some tracks skipping from one to the next in an erratic, jarring manner. Despite the obvious quality Green possesses shining through the imperfections, this LP feels like a collection of ideas from the sketchbook of an artist honing their craft.
Every artist has to start somewhere, though, and every great piece of art is preceded by a rough sketch.
‘High Anxiety’ is out now via Infectious Music Ltd.
This Thom Sonny Green review was written by Michael Hinchcliffe, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.