Listening to: Tennyson

No matter how jazzy you think you are, this kid from Canada is jazzier. His tracks effortlessly employ some of the tightest and most innovative sound design, sampling, and arrangement that I have ever been privileged enough to hear. It’s playful, deliciously intricate, and just so fucking fresh. I present to you, alongside his oft-sampled cat, Luke Tennyson.

“I’m 17 years old and I make music with a computer” is the humble tagline on Tennyson’s Bandcamp page. He’s actually just turned 18, but his musical talent extends far beyond his age.Listening to any of Tennyson’s recent tracks, you’ll immediately come across scattered melodies dancing between octaves and quantization. His percussion and drums are on-point from the moment they enter. Likewise, the vocals that he works with, be they from his sidekick Tess Pretty or from a remixed vocalist, are perfectly reverberated and sit delightfully in the mix. He experiments with underlying pads just as he does with melody, and has an ear for jazz like no other. A couple of meows later, and you’ll fall in love.

Of course, he can slice vocals like the professionals. Of course. Tracks like No Answer and Aphasia Rewinding rock this scattered vocal styling, and have the remarkable quality of being exceedingly intricate while remaining spaced apart enough for individual sounds to be appreciated. Oh, and they’re packed with more beautiful melodies, if you hadn’t already discovered the pattern.

Naturally, for somebody who is still growing up, Tennyson’s style hasn’t always been so cemented. His self-titled album, released in 2012, and therefor produced at around age 15, doesn’t share as much of the calculated sound design as he now boasts. It’s still very well put together, and impressive in tone and execution, but there’s a distinct excitement lacking. Luckily, he found it in the proceeding years. Violet Alturas, another of his scattered and unplanned releases, seems to be a midpoint between the album and his newer work. Want to revel in the pitch-bent goodness of an expressive and crisp musical landscape? This is your track. Want a lesson in human anatomy? Oddly enough, this is still your track.

From stereo-panned samples of page turns, all the way through to a growl from a cat and an inviting feminine giggle, Tennyson’s sound is anything but standard.You owe it to yourself to listen to this music. One day, Tennyson will rule the world with an iron fist and a silver Casio keyboard, and you’re going to need to worship him. There’s no harm in starting a little early. Listen to Tennyson.

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