Tycho Dive Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

An engaging and effortless collection to plunge into and drift within.

Mike Diver 2011

As life continues to move at ever-increasing speeds, music so often dissected into bite-size samples, it becomes increasingly difficult to become properly immersed in an album’s soundworld. So when a set emerges that really does surround the senses, bubbling forth from headphones to encase body and soul like the insides of an aerated chocolate treat, it’s worth highlighting. So, here’s Tycho, aka San Francisco graphic artist/producer Scott Hansen, with his second long-player, and first for the ever-reliable Ghostly International: won’t you please Dive right in?

Sorry, couldn’t resist. But the title is an appropriate one – just as Washed Out’s standout cut Feel It All Around did, indeed, enable the listener to feel the track on every exposed cell of their skin, Dive is a collection to plunge into and drift within. Follow its currents and explore its depths, for there is much to see in the mind’s eye once these sun-dappled instrumentals take hold. Duck beneath the surface: glints on the water, sparkles that won’t stay still, refractions and reflections that go on forever. Granted, Hansen’s atmospheric arrangements are hardly singular creations, with parallels aplenty presenting themselves throughout: yes, the chillwave tag will attach itself to certain offerings, shades of Toro Y Moi apparent in the lively title-track, and there’s also the spirit of Kuedo’s Vangelis-like movement from sci-fi melodies into bucolic ambience. Fans of Boxcutter and Bibio will enjoy this, too. But even if original ideas are at a relative premium, there’s treat after treat to splash around in across these 10 tracks.

Opener A Walk is somewhere between Close Encounters-style alien code and an outfit like Real Estate jamming out a lolloping tune on a summer evening – if we’re sticking to our earlier metaphor, it’s the toe in the water, a tentative feel with an extremity. Hours is the descent, the album-preceding single featuring synths that glide atop bobbling bass that implores the edges of the mouth to peak upwards. It’s both engaging and effortless, perfect fare for when sun’s setting is at its most drawn-out – likewise the blissful beat of Coastal Brake. So why Dive arrives in November is a puzzle: perhaps to offer a final blast of warmth before the frost takes hold; perhaps because its maker simply couldn’t let these tracks go any sooner. While instrumental, they do resonate with emotional investment, each the soundtrack to a mumblecore moment waiting to happen.

With titles like Daydream and Adrift, the tone of Hansen’s music isn’t left much to the imagination. It meets expectations, and while surpassing them is something achieved only occasionally, this is a record that well complements a no-work state of mind. Hey, man, slow down. And take a little Tycho for that buzzing in your brain.

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