Tycho – Epoch


Ghostly International, 2016

I wish I could just leave this at “Tycho released a new album; go buy and listen to it,” so everyone’s lives can be a little bit easier and nicer.

Tycho, initially the musical moniker of San Francisco-based Scott Hansen, deals with electronic music, combining Boards of Canada‘s foggy atmospheres with some of M83’s shimmer and rhythm. Much of his music brings to mind the soundtracks of old nature documentaries from the late 70s and early 80s that you probably saw in grade school science class (and wouldn’t sound so out of place if it were substituted in!). While his earlier works focused more on texture and mood, the music became more and more dynamic and rhythmic, as the band grew from one man behind synths to encompassing a live band. Even with the presence of live (electric) instruments, there is still a distinct dustiness to his music, akin to the Boards‘ “rusting Commodore 64 just about to give up the ghost.”

Don’t let that description lull you to a bored slumber, though. Tycho’s “simultaneously mediatative and danceable” music goes from soothing and calm to radiantly dynamic– within and between tracks. Case in point, “Glider,” from his latest LP Epoch, where chiming synth jingles give way to a driving, earth-stomping beat, before yielding back to an insistent, cycling synth melody and a rising angelic choir of chords in the background. Or the switch-up from the mellow, slow-burning atmospherics of “Epoch” to the driving immediacy of “Division.” It’s a rich, visually evocative study in aural contrasts, like the stark colors and the meeting of the heavens and earth on his album cover (which Hansen designed himself).

With a name like Epoch, Tycho’s traveling back in time, digging through the rocks and finding old fossils–“circling back while maintaining forward motion; revisiting and refining the concepts of earlier albums with a view to the future.” Epoch continues the dabbling in the driving rhythms from 2011’s Dive, and the dynamic live instrumentalism of 2014’s Awake, while reminiscing–not retreading–about the textural feels of his debut album. I loved Past is Prologue because it reminded me a lot of Boards of Canada’s nostalgic fogginess, but Epoch shows an artist now coming into his own and reminding me why I first fell for his sound.




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