Review Summary: Seven years later, Tycho is as immersive as ever.
The big knock on Scott Hansen's work prior to Dive
was its similarity to the seminal works of Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada. Although such comparisons don't tell the whole story, they do form a significant reference point; Hansen's debut LP Sunrise Projector
(later reissued as Past is Prologue
in 2006) captured the airy, dream-like vibes of non-spooky Boards of Canada from the smooth instrumentation all the way down to samples of children being adorable. That isn't to sell Tycho short; for all the comparisons, Hansen's creative vision on Sunrise Projector/Past is Prologue
was surpassed by few, particularly when taken in conjunction with his graphic artwork. While it lacked the fanfare of more prominent records, the result was a collection of some of the most highly accomplished IDM of the decade.
Although "A Walk" opens Dive
much in the way of Hansen's debut, it's clear that he's picked up a few new tricks in the seven years separating the two records. While densely layered synthesizers are the main focus, Hansen's love of folk music lays down the foundation for many of the songs on Dive
. In several songs, swirling melodies give way to acoustic guitars, as in the aforementioned "A Walk" where soft strumming cuts in part way through and uplifts the song to a sort of grandeur that isn't normally associated with Tycho. Guitars factor even more prominently in "Daydream" and "Melanine," forming the basic structure that Hansen's signature melodies revolve around. These aren't drastic changes by any means, but they do make for a more dynamic sound. Where Sunrise Projector/Past is Prologue
took on an often nostalgic, sometimes contemplative motif, Dive
projects a livelier, more carefree atmosphere. This mood is further reinforced when Hansen scales back the guitars, as in the title track. At eight minutes, it's a monster of a track, but driving beats help keep everything focused as Hansen lays down lush soundscapes that help maintain an infectious mood that is as dreamy as it is energetic.
While the fluidity of the songwriting ensures that Dive
transitions from song to song very smoothly, the record doesn't see Tycho venture too far out of his comfort zone. Even so, Dive
demonstrates Hansen's development as an artist. Drawing on a variety of different sounds and structures, Tycho is able to craft a number of immersive tracks. From this perspective, this multidimensional approach is certainly an improvement over Hansen's past works, and yet, at the same time it lacks a certain flair that made its predecessor special. But essentially, Dive
is the kind of high quality release one expects from Hansen. That he's able to maintain the momentum garnered by past releases is impressive not only given the length of time between said releases, but also the standards that they've set.