Listening to Tycho’s current album doesn’t prepare you for the live experience.
Despite Awake being the first time Scott Hansen’s solo project has evolved into a three-piece band it still sounds very much like the work of one man and his laptop.
Brought on stage, however, and the additional musicians lend the beautifully crafted ambient electronica a more dynamic sound. This band mentality translates into the presentation of the material, where individual songs are played rather than them being merged into a pastoral soundscape.
It’s a personality that translates into the music, with the San Franciscan verbally introducing tracks that endlessly shift in mood and tone. There are hints of Ulrich Schnauss and Boards Of Canada but, far from being ambient, many of these tracks are more closely aligned to post-rock.
The title track of the latest album, played as an encore, features Zac Brown’s shimmering guitar sound, which could have been learned straight off The Joshua Tree. ‘A Walk’, meanwhile, spontaneously bursts into audience handclaps during an Explosions In The Sky style riff.
Elsewhere there are flourishes of Rory O’Connor’s disco drums, vintage synth sounds that owe equal parts to sci-fi B-moves and OMD’s Electricity, and when Hansen is left to perform solo the room erupts into the cool club sounds of Caribou.
The themes of nostalgia, longing and nature that the music evokes are manipulated by Hansen’s sleekly modernist visuals of clouds and rippling water, which draw on his alternative career as a graphic designer. Unlike many electronic acts, however, the videos are an added extra rather than being a strict necessity to work live.
It’s this electro-organic approach that gives Tycho’s material such a warm feel and that makes it a rewarding gig experience.
Gig date: October 5