Listening to Hello Skinny, it comes as no surprise that Tom Skinner, the project's mastermind, is primarily a drummer. And not just any drummer too; Skinner has some serious bragging rights for having worked with artists like Damon Albarn, Johnny Greenwood, Matthew Herbert and The Invisible, to name but a few. Hello Skinny's syncopated, multi-textured rhythms just could not be possible without an extraordinary knowledge of percussion. More impressively, Skinner plays almost every instrument on the album and it even shows in the songs' amorphous melodies that have an ineffably percussive element to them. His self-titled debut LP, Hello Skinny moves like a serpent that slithers along polyrhythmic tribal drum patterns, freak-jazz, and vaguely psychedelic-folk. It is an extremely eclectic mix, with each song foraying through many genres and showcasing many influences. Skinner seems to relish trying to let everything loose to see if it all fits together and in Hello Skinny's strongest material, the tension that builds up as a result of the album's unpredictability is extraordinary.

Starting off strong is 'Aquarius', the album's ominous opener. The song's tribal beat marches towards an unknown destination until an eerie synth-harmonica, reminiscent of an Ennio Morricone score, slithers in, glowing like a gold snake, glimmering in a stormy night in a dark forest of percussion. The slow burning, 'Maxinquaye'-era trip-hop 'Hello Skinny' is charmed out of its wicker basket (the same snake from before perhaps), by a smoky clarinet, before turning into a saxophonic jazz-freak out (ala David Lynch film, 'Lost Highway'), attacking with its clattering wooden percussion as the charmed becomes the charmer. However, despite the nerve wracking energy of the first two tracks, Hello Skinny turns the dial down a couple of notches from "terrified but addicted" to "bewildered wonderment" with some lovely forays into ethereal but off-kilter folk ('Foot Tap'), Tarrantino-esque Tex-Mex ('Me And My Lady').

As you can see by the description, Hello Skinny is an album full of 'esques' as it is very evocative of many artistic motifs and colourful imagery. It would be a sound/colour synaesthete's dream. Perhaps it's inevitable that Skinner would in effect be a sponge for so many of these influences as the drummer of choice for world-class alternative musicians. Hello Skinny's overflow of ideas on how to put them altogether in a unique way is commendable but with so many ideas, comes an increased risk of "too many ingredients spoiling the broth." But funnily enough, it's the multi-genre cocktails that work the best and the disappointing moments come up in tracks like 'Crush', 'The Sky Is Falling' and 'Venus'. These songs are so uninteresting compared to the album's other material that they eventually end up meandering aimlessly before evaporating from your memory completely. Even so, the album's best moments still require a significant time investment from a listener because there is so much to appreciate in them.

Hello Skinny is a challenging album (in a good way) that is at its peak when it lets its freak flag fly. Where most experimental albums are accused of being too full of unrealised ideas or self-indulgence, Hello Skinny has the opposite problem. Skinner appears to have some great creative instincts that benefit more from going off the leash and if we can have more of these moments in future releases, then a bigger audience will no doubt be saying "hello, Skinny."