You may know Thom Sonny Green as the drummer from the Mercury-curse-avoiding band alt-J. But thanks to his debut album High Anxiety, you may soon know him better as a talented instrumentalist with a gift for adding warmth and depth to the most delicate of ambient soundscapes.
Written and produced over the course of two years while on the road and released on his own label Sudden Records, High Anxiety is 21 impressively diverse tracks of electronica. It runs through a variety of musical textures from euphoric dream-pop to Aim-style instrumental hip-hop, right through to post-dubstep darkness and experimental noise-terror. But incredibly everything feels connected, like it’s all part of the same patchwork. And this is down to the strength of Green’s own empathy that runs the course of the album.
There’s a warmth to Green’s music. Despite the icy-cool edge of electronica and the ambient ethereality of Eno, you genuinely feel an emotion coming through. ‘Vienna’ is rare moment of bliss captured for three fleeting minutes. ’40 Beers’ is anxious; fearful. ‘Palms’ has its mind on something very serious and life-altering. ‘Oslo’ is a little more hopeful.
High Anxiety feels deeply personal. Despite song titles having the feel of being randomly assigned to any given piece – ‘Palms’, ‘Blew’, ‘Large’ – meaningless to us, but you feel they hold a purpose for Green. Even if it’s just where the song was brought to life – ‘Cologne’, ‘Houston’, ‘Oakland’. It’s wrong to think of music in terms of value for money, but when you compare these 21 full-length tracks of delicately nuanced electronica to Tobacco’s half-arsed Sweatbox Dynasty (also out this week) you can’t help but feel doubly ripped off.
It’s a gorgeous tapestry of the internal workings of anyone’s mind over the course of two years, yet alone the member of one of the more respected indie bands in the UK. At once playful, at another frankly terrifying (‘Large’ manages to be both at the same time), this is the work of a supremely creative and focused mind. 4/5