Scott Hansen has been recording as Tycho for years – he’s a visual artist and musician; more often than not he’s been concerned with techno and its associated shapes. Now he broadens the scope and palette – Tycho now a three-piece live band – and Awake sees a sound that incorporates those lush dance music-derived soundscapes with the landscape of post-rock. When it works – which is most of the time – it’s a sound that’s so easy to sit back with, driving music for even if you aren’t going anywhere. Midway through the album we arrive at the track See, it feels like one of the swirls from the musical paintings that make up Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack for The Social Network. Elsewhere you can picture some of the post-Tubular Bells pre-twee Mike Oldfield pieces, a bit of Tortoise even.
So that’s the sort of area where this falls – clean-sounding, groove-riding instrumental music.
Awake’s opening, title track might fool you, for a minute, into thinking you’re listening to some post-rock ambience The Edge decided to noodle out while he waits for Bono to tick off a few more photo-ops. It has that guitar tone, and happily chugs along, it could almost be a video game theme – I’m talking video games, back when we called them that.
It’s great daydream music, this.
Apogee has a touch of the Aphex Twin to it, Spectre revisits some of Tycho’s earlier Boards of Canada-type tones but marries them up to the drive of a rock band. It’s not too dissimilar to the grooves The War on Drugs are pulling; milking mighty fine music out of determinedly dated-sounding references.
And the closing track, Dye, feels like the completing of a circle, the perfect arcs of this album. It’s just too easy to bliss out with this on.