Tycho – Awake Album Review

For nearly a decade, Tycho has been known as the musical alias of Scott Hansen but with Awake, his second LP for Ghostly International, the solo project has evolved into a three-piece band that reaches an entirely new realm of sonic possibilities. Also known for his design work as ISO50, Hansen’s visual and musical efforts have dovetailed throughout the course of his career with the new LP detailing how the two can truly compliment each other. Previous Tycho releases came to fruition from Hansen’s delicate solo approach to constructing a song, tweaking each peak and valley but Awake is three like-minded people coming together where music becomes the sole purpose and true expression becomes the result.

The title track starts this album with its soothing, gliding melodies. The track itself is repetitive but it’s not boring. The tones send you into a trance-like state where you can totally switch off after one listen to this song. Awake takes you to a far away, dream like place.

Montana is a track that has been previously revealed. Montana sees Tycho move away from the electronic techniques and more towards the indie genre with its pleasant and peaceful guitar riff. This song steadily builds with the repetitive guitar riff taking the lead. Tycho knows how to build safety in familiarity while at the same time, ensuring a song remains fresh. He slowly adds in layers removing the repetitiveness and introducing a chance of development. The familiar guitar riff always returns though acting like a chorus for the song.

L is a complete chill out track that could easily appear on one of those ‘chill out’ compilation records. It’s simple in comparison to the previous tracks. The tempo is slower, the beats last longer and the notes feel a little more prolonged too. There are dance influences heard in this song but not negatively. There’s a good balance here which sees this track edge away from the rave genre and sit snugly in to the electro-dance genre instead.


Tycho Awake album artwork

The next track, Dye, starts off with a dreamy melody and then the dance beat comes in to play. It’s atmospheric and calming. There’s a lovely acoustic guitar riff which can be heard at the start of this song which is complimented by an electric guitar with reverb. Dye is an ever expanding track with each layer and instrument being introduced from the background to the forefront in a very subtle way – so much so that you don’t even realise the song has expanded as much as it has.

See starts with clapping and an interesting bass riff before the electronics take over. There are break downs in this song as if Tycho want to lose layers in order for them to increase them again later on. See takes a lot of influences from the dance genre with the stylised drum beat. The bass line in this song is immense and is what carries it.

Apogee features much more stripped back electronics allowing the guitar riff and drums to feature as the dominant instruments which is quite different from the rest of the songs on the record. Apogee’s tempo dramatically builds and reduces, builds and reduces allowing this song to sound like a mixture of more than one song. It does sound at times like a trance track as the drum beat becomes powerful almost overpowering and then it reduces to take the track back to the indie/electronic/pop genres.

The penultimate track, Spectre, has also been previously revealed. It has a brilliant, uplifting guitar riff to start things off and there are certainly mesmerising qualities to this track, despite the crashing drums and soaring melodies.

The last song on Awake is Plains which suits the end of the album perfectly. It’s a completely calming song to finish on. There are guitar riffs that overlap each other perfectly creating a sense of ambience and atmosphere. Surprisingly, Plains leaves you calm, collected and thankful you’ve heard this album.

Awake will be released on 18 March via Ghostly International. It can be pre-ordered at iTunesThe Ghostly Store and ISO50. NPR have also streamed the album in full on their NPR First Listen section.

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