Review: Tycho | Awake

If you’re someone who likes sleek, cinematic scores that put a spring in your step, Tycho’s new album Awake is something you should definitely get your hands on. It was released 18 March.

Produced by San Francisco based Scott Hansen, who works as both graphic artist and musician, Awake features the familiar swirling combination of indie rock and electronic synth he is known for. It’s supremely obvious that Hansen has been putting the lion’s share of his time into his music as Tycho. However, this time around the meticulously arranged guitar lines take a front seat. The effect of this switch up lends his music a more purposeful and focused sound, with strong bass lines punching through the hovering layers of synth. This leads me to think the title Awake, is very fitting.

The album, like Hansen’s graphic art, is very minimalistic, and the graceful melancholic soundscapes feel like an ambient movie score. This sort of arrangement could have easily resulted in the individual tracks becoming indistinct; however, the strong pacing set out by drummer Rory O’Connor creates a focal point. This prevents Tycho’s overlapping melodic lines from drifting and ensures each track has a unique sound.

The compositions throughout are innately uplifting and you’ll find it difficult to dwell or introspect as you listen to the triumphant arcs. Especially earlier in the album, the bright windswept textures construct imagery of flowing landscapes of rolling, sun-touched hills and a cool, crisp breeze.

The album sways blissfully as tracks smoothly transition from bright to hazy. The focus of course, is on the energetic radiant lines; while the dreamlike sections serve as emphasising contrast, both eventually building to a powerful crescendo. Unlike Tycho’s previous works, Awake isn’t afraid to show its emotional side and when a track reaches a climax, you’ll really feel it.

Awake lags and languishes towards the end, with the perky pace falling away, almost as if struggling to stay awake after burning itself out so early on. In the end, the album attempts to rally against this slump with sharp but short bursts of intensity in the penultimate track Plains before ending with a sleepy whisper.

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