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3/31 KUMD Album Review: Tycho


Awake, the 4th album from California-based ambient musician and graphic artist, Scott Hansen (a.k.a. Tycho), is a blissful and introspective landscape of ambience that models the unpredictability of Boards of Canada (BoC) while demonstrating newly introduced post-rock leanings in a similar vein as God Is An Astronaut. A unique and proper follow up to his previous album, Dive, Hansen features more guitar and drums than ever before. Perfectly combined with his commonly placed synth-driven ambient swells, his addition of real instruments and introspective approach create a hybrid full-band/electronic sound that conveys an array of moods, which are to be interpreted by the listener.By Basement DJ: Dean Berlinerblau

Through his holistic audiovisual approach, Scott creates a framework that allows you to attribute your own ideas and meaning to his music. The album's title seems to be symbolic of awakening introspection, and the music provides just that. One of the most woolgathering aspects of the album is the delay- and reverb-drenched guitars, which create a multi-layered effect that allows you to visualize the past while engaging in the present. Underlying the multi-layered guitars and synth-driven ambient swells are driving drumbeats that shape your pace of thought. The opening track, Awake, is a perfect transition from Tycho's previous album, Dive; beginning with palm-muted guitar and driving bass, it initially introduces you to Hansen's real-instrument approach while maintaining those atmospheric swells that have been apparent throughout his entire discography. The second track, Montana, the most instrument-heavy song on the album, takes Hansen's real-instrument approach a step further by combining harmonious guitars, driving bass, and danceable yet diversifying drums throughout the entire song. The following track, L, starts off with a mysterious BoC-esque synth pattern and conveys an entirely different mood than the previous track. Before long, Hansen elevates the mood with a low-key ambient swell that gradually increases in energy as the song progresses. This gradual increase in energy is a common theme throughout the album. The fourth track, Dye, which according to Hansen, is an evolved version of the title track of his previous album, at first sounds like a song that would have been on Dive, but transitions about halfway through into a guitar-driven swell that perfectly coincides with the real-instrument theme of Awake. The fifth track, See, introduces the second half of the album with a long, drawn out guitar and bass intro which unexpectedly turns out to be the background harmony of a long, fluctuating, synth-driven ambient swell. The following track, Apogee, highly exhibits the post-rock leanings of the album. It is driven by a persistent half-time drumbeat with a fluctuating contrast of guitar and drums. The next track, Spectre, is the album's most ambivalent. The highly differentiating guitars, drums and transitions define its varying moods, and keep you wondering, throughout the entire song, what comes next. Before you know you it, you have transitioned into Awake's closing track, Plains. As the name implies, it is quite plain compared to the rest of the album. The drums are very minimal. The first half is driven by an Alcest-like guitar riff while the second half is an ambient, shoegazey swell that eventually fades out, closing the album.

Through his introspective and interpretive audiovisual approach to music, Tycho continues to define his artistic legacy, leaving an increasingly significant stamp on the world of ambient music.

Recommended tracks: Awake, Montana, L, See
RIYL: Boards of Canada, Jon Hopkins, Helios, Global Communication