Scott Hansen released his fourth album under the alias Tycho on March 18.
Thirty-six minutes of low-key electro-pop, layers of soothing synthesizers and guitars, and this time around Tycho is a three-man endeavor, with an actual drummer and guitarist, adding a new dimension to his sound.
His previous releases were more electronically driven – consisting of samples of instruments rather than actual instruments.
But the electro’s still there, accentuating the instrumental recordings.
Tycho’s album is “Awake,” and that seems to be exactly what it celebrates – a reflection on our ability to function as sentient beings.
It’s not going to get anyone pumped up before a sports game, or lament with the singer’s tragic story of lost love.
“Awake” is relaxing at times, calm and collected but not so simple it’s boring.
It’s the kind of music to appreciate with headphones on, paying attention to Hansen’s carefully constructed layers of ambient sound.
Song transitions are noticeable more as perceptual shifts than individual tracks, like chapters in a book strung together by a common theme.
It’s hard to listen to one song and get the feel of the album, and it wouldn’t be fair to.
Like an abstract painting, it may be hard to pin down meaning on a single sentence, or a single concept.
“Awake” deals with emotions, but the ambiguity of these emotions is what’s important.
Different people will listen to it in different ways and reach independent conclusions about what Hansen wanted you to think about his work.
Tycho isn’t for everyone.
It isn’t party-oriented, it’s something you enjoy like a novel.
It’s modern and understated, showing you rather than telling you anything.
In an interview on TheFader.com, Hansen said “one of the beauties of instrumental music is that it doesn’t define, it implies. I try to use the music as a framework for you to transpose your own emotions onto it, just like you’ve articulated it.”
Without a doubt, whether one thinks “Awake” is too simplistic or utilitarian, or that its layers of meaning are actually as flat as a canvas, Hansen has undoubtedly put a lot of time and effort into the production and design of this album.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve dropped everything to focus on one artistic pursuit,” Hansen said.
So everything went into it; his production talent and graphic design.
“Awake” is one great big artistic statement.
This artistic theme is accentuated by the design of the album itself – bars of pastel colors arranged in geometric shapes.
It’s reminiscent of the eve of summer, before leaves start to change and fall and we have to go back to school.
Hansen’s day job as a designer shows itself in the album’s artwork, and everything about the presentation of the music adds to the concept of the album.
“Awake” was released through the Ghostly International label, which is responsible for handling the likes of Gold Panda, Com Truise, and School of Seven Bells.
‘Awake’ is available on iso50.com, Hansen’s graphic design and band website. It is available in CD, Vinyl and as an MP3/FLAC download.