Tycho is the musical arm of San Francisco-based designer and photographer Scott Hansen’s creative endeavours.
Previously something of a one-man band in the studio, for Tycho’s fourth album Hansen has enlisted the help of drummer Rory O’Connor and guitarist and bassist Zac Brown on the eight ambient instrumentals that make up Awake. This decision has paid dividends in producing something with genuine human warmth and energy.
Although not plumbing great emotional depths, the stylish set of tunes are rich in mood, texture, nuance and toe-tapping propulsive drive. There overall feel is of a post-rock Vangelis, although there are hints of krautrock, Ibizan trance, and New Order with their awkward edges polished off.
Using some fruity but timeless synth sounds, Hansen picks out big bold melodies that bleed out into cavernous, temple-like spaces created by the generous use of reverb. These are underpinned by the tight but expressive rhythmic work of Brown and O’Connor, the pair of them firing off spiralling guitar arpeggios, insistent basslines and clever drum fills that power through any hazy ambient wash.
Featuring a jam band-style organic flow, the restless arrangements ebb and flow in soothing fashion and there are no unpleasant surprises to jar you out of the day-dreamy state that you’re likely to find yourself happily succumbing into.
It mightn’t have been Tycho’s intention to create contemporary sonic balm but that’s what he’s done, and very good it is too.