Review Summary: Praise the Sun.
It's no secret that Tycho's sound is intensely evocative of summer. Even the most cursory of glances through Scott Hansen's photography and design work will reveal a fascination with the sun that borders on obsession. For well over a decade now, Tycho's lush, layered soundscapes have brought the indulgent bliss of a restful bask in the sun-drenched beaches of California to listeners the world over.
While one might make the argument that Tycho's trademark sound is in essence a tasteful mashup of simple consonant melodies, the result in each case has always been far greater than the sum of its constituent parts. In this, Epoch is no exception.
Epoch finds Tycho maintaining the minimalist approach to exuberance that has thus far defined its career. However, where earlier works like Dive
bubbled along with all the inexorability of the ocean, with periods of calm serving merely to punctuate the upbeat tempo that suffused the album, Epoch
appears to be much more deliberate in its mixing of lethargic and upbeat tempos. The resulting effect compounds with the album artwork, and if one were to call Tycho a concept project, Epoch
would be the sunset to the respective sunrise and perihelion to Awake
Tracks like "Receiver" and "Field" showcase the subtle but calculated influence of solemn elements that ironically make Epoch
Tycho's most diverse work to date. Where previous albums flow seamlessly from one song to another in a manner that leaves listeners suspecting the entire work could have been recorded in one spurt of brilliance and later split haphazardly into tracks, Epoch's
tracks each have a life of their own, leaving the album feeling more substantial than its predecessors.
If there was one word to describe Tycho's previous two full-lengths, it would likely be singular. Dive
, in particular, was a beautiful, but ultimately one-dimensional tribute to sun and summer whose intangible allure found it mostly at odds with any environment beyond driving with the windows down and celebrations with good friends.
That being said, Epoch
is still undeniably indulgent at all the right times, and fans who found themselves captivated by Hansen's ability to craft soundscapes to revel in will be sure to enjoy tracks like "Glider," "Horizon," "Slack." Discerning listeners will still find note combinations that hearken back to previous melodies; a trademark of Hansen's that I found almost overbearing on Dive
, now honed into a tasteful treat.
The drum production in particular seems to have improved significantly, as showcased on "Source." In addition, Tycho's trademark riff-infused-synthesizer is used simply as a feature of the album, rather than the overwhelming focus of it. Overall, Epoch
is Tycho at its most crisp, mature, and perhaps, its best.