Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Record label: Ghostly International
Genre(s): Electronic, Ambient, Downtempo, Pop/Rock, IDM
San Francisco–based graphic designer and electronic music wizard Scott Hansen has been wowing IDM nerds for a decade. His acclaimed 2011 Ghostly International debut Dive solidified him as one of a handful of ambient music superstars, in as much as there even is such a thing. Awake, Tycho’s competent follow-up, features real, live musicians: Zac Brown (bass, guitar) and Rory O’Connor (drums) are both awake and alive on these eight tracks and the result is a sound that’s distinctly more human.
Scott Hansen, the mastermind behind Tycho, was first a graphic designer, and he still balances his visual work with his growing reputation as a musician. His aesthetic is usually typified by a washed-out, simple approach to beauty. His music takes a similar road. It's wordless and built on electronic motifs, but it doesn't feature any real formless noodling akin to IDM,so it's destined for background music.
If you’re a fan of Tycho, the electronic pop project headed up by erstwhile photographer/graphic designer Scott Hansen, you know what to expect with Awake: downtempo beats given a sunset-colored sheen by the recognizably curvaceous warmth of his synth tones and set aloft with some finely placed guitar and bass lines. And sure enough, here are eight tracks’ worth, well-appointed and ready to soundtrack your spring and summer months. To that end, the album is a fine one.
The variations within Tycho's music have always been subtle, hovering between ambient introspection and more active synth pop and post-rock elements. On Awake, Scott Hansen breaks the mold a bit, crafting a set of songs with more prominent peaks and valleys than his previous work. He makes this shift known with the album's first two songs, both of which shake off the insular feel of his previous album, Dive, in favor of streamlined guitar pop with most of its rough edges and raw emotions smoothed away.
Awake is the album where Scott Hansen, the San Francisco-based visual artist and musician who records as Tycho, expands into a far-reaching space. He's made gorgeously constructed techno under this name for over a decade, ultimately gaining traction with the sunny Dive in 2011. In the context of Awake—the first Tycho record recorded as a three-piece band—his previous albums now sound like mere dreams of the luminous world he was trying so hard to connect to.
While on tour in support of 2011's Dive, Scott Hansen (a.k.a. Tycho) added guitarist Zac Brown (no, not that Zac Brown) and Nitemoves (a.k.a. Rory O'Connor) on drums to help give his synth-layered space jams a textural third dimension. With the intent to recapture this live energy, Hansen brought his makeshift band into the studio to record Awake.Aside from the front-and-centre prominence of O'Connor's crisp drum sound and Brown's The Edge-inspired guitars, Hansen hasn't wholly reinvented his craft on his fourth full-length, but tracks like the blissful, building "See" and the downbeat, lush "Spectre" prove there are benefits to sounding authentically Tycho-esque.
Tycho’s first LP for independent record label Ghostly International – 2011’s Dive – did exactly what was pictured on the tin. The visuals, the tracks, the title of the album – everything nodded to Scott Hansen’s very particular vision of things as both musician and graphic artist, and this made for one super cohesive piece of art. But in serving up the immersive, therapeutic electronica its cover’s washed-out sunset hinted at, Dive was also deceptively choreographed: you could feel the attention that Hansen had poured into the album and it weighed heavy, the songs often becoming too dense with the notion of what they were supposed to be to actually be.
Tycho’s stylish ambient sounds are immediately apparent from the lush ether of title track Awake. It’s a humming, clicking construction of sibilant percussion sounds and glistening atmospherics, lightly dusted with hand-clap pops and feather-light guitar leads. Over the eight magnificent tracks that comprise the album – also handily titled Awake – the stratospheric tone and teary nostalgia that Tycho has always conjured are back in regal fashion.
Review Summary: Scott Hansen's most memorable albumMuch 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 on its own two feet, but sound as if it simply isn't meant to deliver on its own terms.
Listening to Tycho is the aural equivalent of exploring a new art museum. The overall effect is one of remarkable beauty and you still have the option of how you’ll take it in. Rush through the halls and let the general swirl of color and frozen (but still living) emotion wash over you. Or take a mannered, careful stroll, stopping at images that strike you to stare closer and closer until new colors, patterns, and themes emerge.
American ambient electronica merchant Scott Hansen’s 2011 third album ‘Dive’ was a work of slick, toned disco, but for fourth album ‘Awake’ he’s hit the snooze button. More laidback and less danceable than its predecessor, the likes of ‘Montana’, ‘L’ and ‘Dye’ stroll rather than strut with ‘See’ being about the only track to get its blood pumping and only penultimate track ‘Spectre’ managing any sort of dynamic variety. That’s not to say this eight-track instrumental isn’t pleasant, it’s just a bit like going for a drive around a ring road: You’ll be comfy, you might spot some pretty things on the hard shoulder, but ultimately it doesn’t get you anywhere.Andy Welch .
Down to earth is a phrase that’s probably used far too often, but Tycho’s music is so down to earth that it practically embodies the term. Scott Hansen’s eternally chilled-out sounds strike a certain chord; they sound like a million voices despite containing absolutely none. Approaching his records with a slow, ever-evolving lurch, he’s been tinkering around with his sound ever so slightly over the years, which all culminated in the gorgeous ‘Dive’.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. There are few pleasures on planet earth that supersede days of nothingness, a clear agenda and unmuddled mind, relaxing in the summer sun. Moseying through a daily daze of chance meetings, quiet contemplation and blissful introspection. American producer and graphic artist Scott Hansen, otherwise known as Tycho, creates ambient instrumentals to soundtrack those rare moments in life when the sun's rays provide total nourishment of the soul.
Scott Hansen comes through within all his works as peaceful and innocuous, just about crossing a decade-long career sculpting ambient soundscapes that are guarded in a conscious state. His is a quiet competence that could very well break if ever he encounters a disturbance. He’s carried that virtue to such an extent that it’s almost unimaginable to picture him trying anything outside his established limits, and seeing as his releases come after extended periods it’s safe to say he’s in no rush to prove otherwise.
Instrumental music and graphic design are more similar than you might think. Both use wordless mediums to convey meaning, and both require a particular finesse to get right. Scott Hansen, AKA Tycho, has been a producer and a graphic designer for over a decade, and his work in each field is as consummately professional as it should be by now. But competence doesn't equal resonance, a fact that's clear in Hansen's recent work.
Tycho has always owned an odd niche in the indie world. Electronics and post-rock sensibilities collided on Scott Hansen’s last album Dive which netted him hype and praise. Now that album number four, Awake, has been released Hansen seems more dedicated to mashing the sounds of Maserati and Mogwai with more downtempo aspects. Mogwai’s recent, and solid, Rave Tapes serves as a great touchstone for Awake.
Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) is a San Franciscan graphic designer, artist and musician. Specialising in sunny, ambient electro (or IDM as our friends across the pond are so keen on calling it), his previous offerings have attracted a cult following but never (probably deliberately) tried to raise the roof. Tycho’s music has always been easily digestible and has arguably played second fiddle until now – so is fourth studio album Awake the album that finally rises, like his recurring sun motif, to its zenith? A renewed vigour is immediately evident from the titular opening track.
Have you ever wondered what a Boards Of Canada remix of U2 would sound like? The Edge laying down some of his finest chiming, delay-heavy licks over a track by the Sandison bros? No? Me neither if I'm honest, but as 'Awake', the opening (and title) track from the fourth (third proper) album by the San Franciscan ambient/ electronic producer and graphic designer Scott Hansen, unfurls you can hear exactly that aforementioned sonic cocktail and it sounds – well, not as awful as you might imagine. In fact, give it time, a few listens, perhaps a stoned drive down windy country lanes on a gloriously sunny spring day, and to these ears it is approaching brilliance: an atmospheric guitar instrumental festooned with one those lush, woozy synth melodies that BOC could have retired on had they been able to trademark them. Of all the Boards Of Canada soundalikes that emerged in their wake, Hansen did it better than most.
Hovering on the hazy horizon of the electronic music scene is San Francisco-based Scott Hansen, also known as Tycho, an ambient-psychedelic artist and producer known for his rolling, scenic, all-instrumental soundscapes. With his breakout EP, Dive (Ghostly International, 2011), Tycho brought us his swirling melodies and smooth percussion on singles like Daydream and Adrift that sound exactly like what their titles suggest—a solo mental stroll at sunset, or a float down a lazy, winding river. Keeping with the vibe of a nostalgic, liminal journey, Tycho’s newest album, Awake, consists of the alluring, melancholy soundscapes and hypnotizing percussion that define Tycho as a musician.
Tycho — Awake (Ghostly)I hit red at a stoplight several weeks ago with Awake on in the car. I noticed a cute, shaggy haired couple hugging and holding hands at the cross walk. I shit you not that a sunbeam came out of the clouds as I looked on. Really, I didn’t even flinch, as, listening to this album, I felt like I was already in the middle of a rainbow.Sacramento-born Scott Hansen’s — aka Tycho — music is happy and hopeful.