There are times when I listen to an artist when I can mentally rattle off a shortlist of related ones – usually within genres that are what I’d call “within my wheelhouse”. Tycho is different. The whole time sitting through his carefully curated set all I could think was that it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. The Sacramento native, fresh from rocking the Mix-Up tent at Splendour In The Grass over the weekend, has had his music described in a plethora of different ways; downtempo, ambient, post rock-techno. My favourite though is perhaps cinematic beats, though the truth is probably somewhere in between. He skilfully weaves all of the above influences together with an array of synthesisers and guitars, tied together with tight percussion backing. It seems fitting then that with so many intricate sounds, the acoustically excellent Opera House should host him, with his three piece band – Zach Brown, Rory O’Connor & Billy Kim – providing the live backing.
If the evening wasn’t a sell out, is was pretty close to one, with only a smattering of spare seats dotted throughout the whole arena; a large screen provided the backdrop for the boys, a relatively bare set-up for each member deceiving the complexity of sounds to come. Tycho, real name Scott Hansen, was a graphic artist in a previous life before pivoting to producing, but he obviously hasn’t left that life behind based off the variety of visuals on display behind the band. Soothing clips of beaches, clouds, American scenery, and sand dunes were all perfectly in time with the music, and all suited the haunting guitar licks and rolling beats that came forth from the speakers.
Tycho has quite an impressive discography, having produced 5 albums, including his debut in 2006 with Past is Prologue, and we got a sample from each. He played ‘PBS’ from his first album ‘Past is Prologue’, a song that was written about Scott’s mother who was a transcriber who would always have her dictaphone with her. We heard ‘Awake’, which was written with band member Zach (guitar and bass) in Tahoe in the STS9’s studio, which was the catalyst for people to throw off the shackles of the Opera House seats and dance. There was one particular woman, so hyped by the music, that she was very forceful in getting others to dance with her, even shouting as far as 5 rows behind her to involve more patrons. From the same album (‘Awake’) they also played ‘Montana’, which incidentally was the first song ever written by both him and Zack, before delving into the latest release, ‘Weather’. As at Splendour, he was joined on stage by singer Saint Sinner (Hannah Cottrell) who provided the stunning vocals to tracks ‘Japan’, ‘Pink and Blue’ and ‘Easy’ – her voice sounding exactly as it does on the album. She also came out for ‘No Stress’ before the band departed to rapturous applause. Those eager to get an early start missed the encore – a very intimate, Cottrell lead, ‘Skate’ plus one other.
The pleasant walk home along the harbour was filled with the praise of a man who to some has been a slow burn; not commanding attention, but quietly amassing a loyal following with his highly evolved beats. It’s now that he seems like he’s getting the kudos that he deserves, and was humble in describing the experience of playing at the Opera House as a “dream come true”. I’ll admit that I hadn’t had a massive amount of exposure to his music before this night, but am happy to say that I am now a fan.
(photos provided by Sydney Opera House)