Hello Skinny LP
Hello Skinny is the brainchild of in-demand drummer extraordinaire Tom Skinner, who's other current involvements include Sons Of Kemet, Mulatu Astatke, Matthew Herbert, Eska, Finn Peters and The Owiny Sigoma Band amongst many others.
Taking its cue from a song by The Residents, the project is Skinner's first as bandleader, composer and producer [playing most of the instruments] and sees him exploring areas around and between psych-dub, electronics, downtown/freak jazz and folk stylings. This debut album follows on from his widely spread 'Smash + Grab' mixtape and takes the musical themes from that release and flexes and focuses the sound into a coherent, deep, soulful listening experience, featuring contributions from Shabaka Hutchings, Tom Herbert (of The Invisible), Byron Wallen, Trudie Dawn Smith and Nick Ramm.
Album opener ‘Aquarius’ sets the tone with its combination of electronic bleeps and drones, synth squelches and a Morricone –esque refrain, underpinned by Skinner’s vibrant groove. Next up, the title track, and cover of The Residents tune, whose main riff is re-configured as a dubby bassline which builds to incorporate an intense rhythmic work out, propelled by some fiery saxophone work courtesy of Shabaka Hutchings. ‘Crush’ and ‘Knot Blue’ continue to marry taut and soulful grooves and dubbed out experimental electronics with strong melodic themes, whilst ‘Bump’ again invites Hutchings to prowl its warped electronic landscape with his sax. Tracks like ‘Foot Tap’, ‘The Sky Is Falling’ and ‘Venus’ take a more acoustic turn and demonstrate Skinner’s skill as a composer with a strong ear for an exquisite melody. The track 'Crush' was picked up by Gilles Peterson, featuring on the recently released ‘Brownswood Bubblers 8’ compilation. In all, ‘Hello Skinny’ plays out as eclectic, cinematic and as retro-phuture funky as a library (music) of Soul Jazz compilations.
"...a warm, breathable, downright cozy mixture of African rhythms, low-key electronics, and Krautrock shimmer... ... There's been nothing else quite like it this year." [Spin]
"Introspective, eclectic brain-groove of the month." [Mojo]
"An unforced alliance of player and beatmaker, with measured, apt, concise statements." [BBC]
"...existing in that fertile zone where jazz, dub, techno and avant-pop deliquesce into an exhilarating free-for-all." [Mojo]
"The album is atmospheric but never austere; Its themes are strong and memorable, but never heavy handed or trite. Hello Skinny nods to a plethora of influences and yet remains resolutely itself" [Nick Southgate - The Wire]
"A short collection of sketches, Hello Skinny is still a smartly constructed, casually cool debut." [Bowlegs]
"...Skinner creates an engrossing, experimental sound, at times sounding liek a lysergic Morricone - 'Aquarius', 'Me And My Lady', at others like Four Tet - 'Bump', 'Crush' - whilst always keeping expectations in flux." [Boomkat]
2. Hello Skinny
4. Foot Tap
6. Knot Blue
8. Me And My Lady
9. The Sky Is Falling
Composed, performed, produced and arranged by Tom Skinner except -
Shabaka Hutchings - clarinets on 2,3. baritone sax on 2,5
Tom Herbert - acoustic bass on 4,8
Nick Ramm - MS20 on 2
Byron Wallen - trumpet, flugelhorn and baritone horn on 7
Trudie Dawn Smith - vocals on 7
Mixed by Dilip Harris [1-7] and Chris Morphitis [8,9]