Tycho – Awake (album) (Ghostly International)


At the top of the year, we reviewed Montana – the first single from the upcoming Tycho record, Awake. A colorful and melodic number, Montana saw Tycho toss aside the keyboard arpeggios and hip-hop flavoured beats of the past and opt for a lush, guitar-driven world not unlike that of DIIV and Wild Nothing.

Tycho has always been the musical alias of Scott Hansen, however on Awake, Tycho has expanded to a full band with guitarist/bassist Zac Brown, and drummer Rory O’Connor (Com Truise, Nitemoves). Of the new record, Scott Hansen has even said, “This is, in many ways, the first true Tycho record”.

Awake is an 8-song, instrumental album where delay-effected guitars intertwine to create a gorgeous and atmospheric tangle held together, and driven by, post-punk-meets-post-rock bass lines. The mood of the record is both relaxed and reflective, peppered with moments of nostalgia. The one thing that remains consistent with Tycho’s previous records is the gorgeous, ambient landscapes – only times time Tycho brings guitars to the forefront.

The opening title track is awash of ambient synths, and soothing guitar melodies. Just as important as the feather-weight atmospherics are the drums, complete with hand-claps, which not only solder things together but also supply a groove, commanding the listener to sway.

The aforementioned Montana follows next and begins with a sweet guitar arpeggio before a driving post-rock bass line grabs hold and pushes the song forward. Gorgeous, sweeping synths emerge shortly after, while guitar melodies entangle. From 3:00 onwards, the real freedom that the trio formation has given Hansen takes centre stage with drum fills flying about, left and right.

Third track, L, is less immediate and refined than the opening two tracks and is instead airier with its floating melodies and loosely fit arrangement.

Dye is made for sitting on the beach, under palm trees, watching the sun go down. Thanks in part to its acoustic guitars Dye emanates a chill-out vibe, which is then blended with the lush styling of the title track.

Like Montana, the gorgeous and melodic See too channels DIIV and Wild Nothing and takes the listener on a soaring, sonic journey.

As one of the more instantly distinguishable tracks on the record, the excellent Spectre is characterized by a more cohesive structure and a brilliant, catchy, guitar-riff, which – when paired with its uptempo beat – recalls The xx (think Fiction).

Short but sweet album closer, Plains consists of only two guitars with intertwining arpeggios, which after 90 seconds, give way to an atmospheric wash, leading to the song’s fade.

The tracks share many similar qualities to one another, with perhaps few truly distinctive characteristics separating them. However, don’t misconstrue this as a negative; Awake reveals a consistent and solid body of work – and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that. A mood piece of sorts, Awake is a record one could immerse themselves in completely, or – alternatively – have on in the background as a relaxing soundtrack.

Awake is the sound of summer time in the shade.

Awake will be released on 17 March, 2014 via Ghostly International.

Listen to the title track below: