Review Summary: Scott Hansen's most memorable album
Much of Tycho's music has always felt like downtempo for an incomplete world. Case in point: his 2010 release Dive
functions similarly to the spectacular Disasterpeace soundtrack for Fez
- through miles and miles of gleaming reverb, it creates a context for another universe, glazed and radiant. But the issue with Dive
, and the quality that distinguishes it from such a landmark soundtrack, is that it exists alone- constructed to stand alone, but sound as if it simply isn't meant to deliver on its own terms. And Hansen's newest outing Awake
is similar to its predecessors in that there, unfortunately, still seems to be a disconnect between artist and canvas. It’s the most memorable Tycho album, sure, but what exactly does that mean at this point?
Despite how familiar its ideas are, though, Awake
’s distinctly a Tycho release because it specializes in subtlety. Hasn’t Tycho’s work always been about tweaking the knobs just that tiny
bit, anyways? Add a shade of reverb to that one melody; find a softer tint of orange to boot. The idea behind Hansen’s music has always been predicated on precision- the process in which he goes about this has just been refined with time. And that's why Awake
feels eerily familiar upon first spin, because it's a more exhaustive look into the aesthetic with which Hansen's been working throughout the years. Let's be clear, though: while Tycho's third full-length is nothing but a bag of old tricks, they're ones that took time to properly cultivate. These songs are founded from simple enough motifs- which, for Hansen, have always consisted of just a couple constituent parts in particular: the delicate lead guitar line, supported by characteristically clouded synth work- but here, he goes and takes it a step further. It's those ghost notes on the snare in “Dye” that go above and beyond the call of duty; it, too, is the washed-out refrain hidden in the husk of “See.” It’s even possible the seismic shifts of “Apogee” go hardest, nodding to the dancefloor in a way no Tycho release has done before.
is a focused record, but it lets loose a little too; it conjures memories without getting too caught up in the baggage that typically comes tethered to such things. And, indeed, Hansen’s AMA session revealed that he pushes no specific agendas with his music. He creates it to be adaptable, and while it undeniably came from a particular time and place, it’s penned to work ubiquitously: songs made for sunrise just as much as sunset. Yet while Awake
is every bit as emotionally faint as its forerunners, it’s also the telling of a new tale for the musician. More than ever before, these songs spin on their own axes: and that fact alone makes this record as positive a step forward for Tycho as anything.