With the exception of a couple of stellar singles, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve heard from Tycho. 2019 marks a three year absence since San Francisco producer Scott Hansen has donned the moniker, but an absence of which is so fearlessly broken with an abundance of risk-taking innovations. Enter ‘Weather’.
If 2016’s ‘Epoch’ is the younger, more energetic and somewhat House obsessed teenager of the Tycho discography, then Hansen’s latest is it’s older, more courageous and somewhat introspective sibling. Capitalising on the sound introduced in 2014’s chart-topping ‘Awake’, ‘Weather’ is predominantly a progression of the tight acoustic elements first exhibited there, with only a light smattering of the iconic electronic flourishes featured so predominately in his breakout sophomore LP ‘Dive’.
In what is perhaps the greatest departure from Hansen’s previous works, ‘Weather’ debut’s the use of vocals, more notably those of Hannah Cottrell’s project Saint Sinner, and of which we hear reoccurring formally throughout five of the EP’s eight tracks. Cottrell’s vocals can also be heard echoing across uncredited tracks such as the introductory ‘Easy’ in the form of cleverly manipulated vocal chops and reverberating stabs.
This new facet of Tycho is a breath of fresh air to a specific sound that could so have easily become stale and formulaic, if not a double edged one. On the one hand, the introduction of a soft spoken female helps to trademark each track, adding unique melodies and character that serves to give each song it’s own identity and hook to remember it by. Unfortunately though, the trade-off here is the loss of a very specific allure of Tycho’s previous works to date, that being of Hansen’s innate talent to curate a seamless body of work, and the kind of which so easily lull’s listeners into a such a trance before snapping awake only to be left asking how many tracks have passed already. Also, whilst the vocals on offer are pleasant, there is a something of a missed opportunity here to par with a style much more evocative of the dream-like state the musical content already on offer. At the end of it all, it can’t be helped but to wonder what a collaborative effort between Hansen and a the vocals of an artist the likes of fellow Chillwave producer ‘Washed Out’ could have accomplished instead.
Regardless, the return of incredibly clean and tight engineering, brave instrumental inclusions and, most importantly, the timeless trademark melancholy that Tycho is synonymous with all combine in a fascinating body of work that not only proves this producers esteemed almost two-decade tenure thus far, but one that demonstrates a consciousness of the years to come.