Release Date: Aug 19, 2016
Record label: Infectious
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Electronica is easily the spacetime model of music—splintered, mutated, highly complex in equation and made otherworldly through production. There’s the kind that has a mad scientist sensibility to it, as if every Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus song germinated in some far-off lab with dials, knobs and beakers of green solution. Break the pyrex, stir the contents of the petri dish, and if it doesn’t explode, you have a near-perfect track.
Alt-J drummer Thom Sonny Green’s debut solo record is an ambitious, chaotic project that straddles the line between electronic and experimental. It surely would’ve benefited from a bit of paring down, but it is hard to fault Green for fully laying his cards on the table. High Anxiety is an exceptionally fitting title, as most of Green's instrumental tracks are skittering, ominous listens that simply evoke stress.
It likely works in Thom Sonny Green's favour that I've never consciously listened to the music he makes during his day job. Green, to me, is not 'the drummer for Alt-J' as much as he is 'a solo experimental musician,' - and, as it turns out, his first album shows his personal musical inclinations to be quite far removed from the brazen alt-rock sensibilities of his larger project. I requested a copy of High Anxiety on the strength of album opener, 'Vienna,' alone, only consciously making the connection to Alt-J a day or two after, by which time I was so comfortably acquainted with High Anxiety, I saw no reason to explore Alt-J any further.
Thom Sonny Green’s day job is drumming for Alt-J, but you shouldn’t hold it against him. His surprising debut solo album, High Anxiety, is the result of three years of relentless touring and recording in hotel rooms, parking sombre electronic ideas that wouldn’t work on the mothership. These 21 instrumental tracks are named after cities or one-word associations, and range affectively all the way from the paranoid to the merely jittery (Green suffers from anxiety and a hearing disorder).
Alt-J drummer Thom Sonny Green’s ‘High Anxiety’ debut is an outlet for every tour anecdote he’s experienced in the past four years. Since Alt-J went stratospheric with 2012’s ‘An Awesome Wave’, they’ve had little to no time off. Sure, Gus Unger-Hamilton has successfully started out his own restaurant, but no member has experienced full (fitz)pleasure outside of band duties.
Thom Sonny Green—known for his role as drummer for Mercury Prize-winning English band Alt-J—recently released his first solo project, High Anxiety. It’s a very sharp contrast to anything his band has done before, and this is almost too noticeable on the album: its whopping 70 minutes is filled with 21 ideas that move between ambient, atmospheric passages and emotive, booming beats. When I heard the style of the album, I immediately thought how strangely-perfectly it parallels Gorillaz as this band member’s version of their The Fall: made in the midst of the artist being on tour, traveling from city to city, using just an iPad (or in Green’s case, his laptop).
Let’s get straight to the point. This is a 66-minute long, almost entirely instrumental, largely ambient electronic solo album by the drummer from Alt-J. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with us. If you’re not, your loss.On paper it may not sound that enthralling, but it is a release that deserves attention.These days Alt-J are an arena-sized anomaly.