Trends come and go, fashion, art, music, you name it. They emerge with periods of great creativity and stand to define certain eras entirely. For the current global music scene, a trend I feel that is really coming into a period of maturity is down-tempo, ‘ambient electro’. Certain pioneers of the genre lead the stylistic approach, such as the UK’s Bonobo and San Francisco’s Tycho, both have which have been producing quality down-tempo vibes for over 12 years.
Scott Hansen leads Tycho, a native of the bay area, in a group that has become a power house of American electronic ambient music. Mellow in it’s nature, Tycho’s style takes influence from traditional analog sound while maintaining a very current tone in line with the progression of other forms of electronic music. In live form the group combines live guitar, bass, drums, keys, synths and visuals effects to give an all-sense encompassing explosion of sound and texture.
Tycho’s first studio album arrived in 2004 with the release of ‘Sunrise Projector’. The album was received with average reviews, then to be re-released on Merck Records in 2006 under the new title ‘Past is Prologue’.
I first became aware of Tycho, as many of their fans did, after the release of ‘Dive’ in 2011 on the label Ghostly International. A musical masterpiece from start to finish, Dive takes the listener on a aural experience, warming up from the mellow tones of opening track ‘A Walk’ through to ‘Daydream’, past the mesmerising ‘Ascension’ and back down to earth on the closing tones of ‘Elergy’.
What I love about this record is the progression it takes from start to finish. A real sense of early calm developing into substantial electro throughout. The artwork evoking this very same essence that every track stands for.
Since this brilliant breakout album Scott Hansen and his group have gone on to release ‘Awake’ (2014) and ‘Epoch‘ (2016) – both as with ‘Dive’, released on Ghostly International and both to excellent critical review.
Tycho performing live takes ambient/down tempo electro to another level. Alongside live musicians, Hansen takes centre stage amongst a maze of different sounding synths, keys and electronically produced percussive effect pads. Recently I watched Tycho’s full live performance on KEXP and was blown away by the accuracy to the studio recording, “I’ve gotta see this show for myself”.
Tycho have set out in 2017 with a packed agenda of live shows. The band have 21 dates confirmed between April and July alone in North America and Europe and I’m lucky enough to have tickets to their Trinity Centre Bristol show on June 8th 2017.
With ‘Epoch’ still fresh out of the press I can only assume the new material will provide the backbone to their 2017 live experience. Much like ‘Dive‘ and ‘Awake‘ before it, ‘Epoch’ embodies the dizzying soundscape masterpiece that Hansen sets out to hook in the listener. So why is ambient down tempo electro so big? It doesn’t seem to fit any specific genre, sitting on the bench between electronic, rock, ambient, trance, and psychedelia, giving a sound that’s come to define a once niche style of music. I think it comes to define the modern music creator. With increased technology and global influence, more and more sub genres are plastered together to create these textural sounds. Combining audible layers of experimentation and musical fusion gives you results we hear in Tycho.
It’s now. Tycho are riding the wave of down tempo electro. Don’t miss it. You’ll enjoy it.