If Tycho’s music was a friend, it’d be the reliable, intelligent one; always making wise, good decisions, shining a light on the safer path. They’d be magical, but not crazy or daring, strictly using their powers for good. On Tycho’s, aka Scott Hansen, latest album ‘Epoch’, we get another magical, but safe, soundscape.
The title sums up the music pretty well; its an introspective album that, as expected, takes the listener on a journey, but unfortunately we’re not taken anywhere new or foreign, it’s mostly familiar. A journey back in time in fact. This approach unfortunately limits ‘Epoch’, when experimentation is imperative to success, Scott Hansen has created something within the self-imposed borders of Tycho.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that ‘Epoch’ is not worth listening to, it’s a great album. Sonically it’s huge and expansive. It’s a journey for the listener but it also depicts Hansen’s journey from bedroom recordings (a little too similar to Boards of Canada) to full scale, live band, festival ready albums that are consistently good value. No doubt, Tycho and his band will transform and transcend space at there Australian live shows next year.
Unlike 2011 record ‘Dive’, which though sonically great, as a whole lacked danger and depth creating an infuriatingly happy listen. ‘Epoch’ has edge. The soundscape is still euphoric, but tracks like ‘Epoch’, ‘Division’ and ‘Field’ showcase Hansen’s darker side. ‘Division’ in particular is classically Tycho — echoey guitars, filled with light and hope, but the catch is a grundy, post-punk bass line. These nuances of darkness and edge give the album it’s significance; Hansen is a perfectionist, but having things a little too clean and perfect can be as detrimental as utter chaos. Fans of older Tycho, like ‘Sunrise Projector’ will be satisfied.
But where Tycho is at his absolute best is ‘Receiver’, a breathtaking, gorgeous track; the perfect personifier for simple is best. But there’s irony in that too because ‘Receiver’ is far from simple. What makes Tycho a standout artist is his attention to detail; striving to recreate live drum sounds, and making sure every instrument gets it’s deserved attention. This is best heard in ‘Receiver’, Hansen’s impressive accuracy and precision is something to be admired. Such compulsiveness to perfection could make a track like ‘Receiver’ soulless and robotic, but Hansen is a talented man. From the pensive, dubbed synths to the spectacular, almost sci-fi like piano melody and sonar drones, this should be a eery, futurist track, but Hansen somehow makes it a beautiful, heartfelt lullaby.
Tycho will get away with this one. Fans old and new will adore ‘Epoch’, just as they did ‘Dive’ and ‘Awake’. But Hansen’s next project, whenever that might be, needs to show growth. With ‘Epoch’ we journeyed around our milky way, next time take us to new planets far, far away.