In the equivalent to a character spin-off series, drummer of English indie-rock band Alt-J, Thom Sonny Green, has created his first 21 track experimental, electronic & instrumental LP by the name of High Anxiety. With its ambient urban sprawl, hip-hop aesthetics and accompanying visuals to each track, it comes as an alternative outlet for Green’s musicality and brings it’s listeners on a journey of the senses. Green offers up these visuals as to “have something else to carry it (the music) a little bit.” High Anxiety is more-so an art piece than just a conventional album.
A solid amount of the tracks are named after places, which leads us to presume perhaps that is where the track had found its origins. We travel between the slow-moving tinkling sway of Vienna to the race-against-time of Oakland, bass building, tension rising.
Beach sounds almost like waves clapping in anticipation of a tsunami, its twisted effects, and premonition like drum beat evokes this sense of unease. Not the kind of ease you would usually seek from visiting an actual beach. It’s like the beach after an apocalypse hits. Desolate and eerily quiet. Blew rattles and wavers between synths while Ping rolls with trap beats that you might imagine in your head walking through the dark streets of a moody underbelly.
While each track leads into the next in a seamless yet page turning manner that lets you know it is a new track, the length of 21 tracks can feel a little tedious at times. Not to say that the completion of all 21 tracks isn’t worthwhile, it’s just like that feeling you sometimes get when travelling for an extended period, the trip has been beautiful but you’re a little lethargic for home.
There is a certain ying and yang to High Anxiety, a lightness, and darkness, but if you let it, High Anxiety has the ability to take you on that meditative yet adrenalin inducing journey of discovery, the journey that inspired the album. “I just wanted to make sounds – I found that extremely therapeutic. It helped me with a lot of things on tour, with anxiety and things like that… The album really comes from that; going on tour and having an outlet.. it really helps me a great deal.”
The term ‘Anxiety’ alone already gives an indication of heightened awareness, but with the addition of ‘High’ before ‘Anxiety”, it’s that added escalation and emphasis on the extent of the feeling. High Anxiety gives sound to the feeling in a tangible, palpable manner, taking back control and redirecting that anxiety and emotion into an art piece.