It was eerily quiet as the first notes conjured up the dreamscape that would be the setting for this lucid story line. A unified sway rippled through the masses. It became somewhat of a cyclic undulation, an auditorily induced hypnosis. The soft melodics and deep droning created a subtle movement, while the drastically contrasting eccentric jams layered with instrumentation created an energetic frenzy in the crowd. The mass moves as one to the diverse rhythms, from tranquil lapping to heavy waves crashing on the dance floor. It was a sold out show with what seemed like over 1000 people.
The silent breaks create an intentional negative space and the energetic builds allow the listener’s bulleted list of to-do’s to be lost in the warm waves of each note’s timbre. Tycho puts your focus into the music as if you’re reading a book. The songs become chapters and the steady analogue overtones and sudden breakdowns into ambience become the plot. The songs flow seamlessly together, never missing a beat, creating dramatic moments of artistry that cannot be differentiated into separate pieces. With each extended pause, the audience erupted into a sea of screams and applause. It was as if the audience awoke from the dream for just a moment to commend the story tellers, only to sink almost instantaneously back in with the beginning of each new track. Tycho was creating a unique dream world attuned to each listener.
The music imbues a nostalgia that casts a spell of silence over the audience, allowing everyone to sit a minute within themselves and explore special moments in their past. There’s no linear thought pattern to where it takes you, it could be a recent journey, your favorite place to play when you were a kid, your first kiss, or the best view you’ve encountered yet in this life or a previous one. The songs were played in order from the new album Awake. With this progression they create an interconnected story, accented by only the changing bass lines. The collective experience was completely visceral, instinctual and emotionally driven.
Tycho slows you down. It was one of the first times I haven’t been on a dance rampage and seen so many people on the exact same page. This is because it hits an emotional core that’s not touched by a lot of music. It’s the kind of music that sounds familiar even if you haven’t heard it before. Such a surreal experience for me personally, Tycho and Zero 7 being the first electronic music I was ever introduced to, just reinforced the vintage dream state the music naturally induces.
We’ve all stepped into Tycho’s daydream as co-creators, lucidly listening.
Lost in Sound teamed up with Blackspy Marketing and their photographer Austen Steinsick, a.k.a. Fishbone, who optically captured the dream-state while I analyzed and recorded it. Instead of just writing from my own perspective, I decided to take a little poll and walk around asking a variety of creatures to describe Tycho in a few words – here are some of the response I received:
“Jam band to the fullest degree of bliss”
“Transcendental meditation and illumination”
“My top five artists”
“Extremely chill vibes”
“Childhood memory recall music“
“Dreamy, droning soundscapes”
After the show I had the opportunity to have a casual discussion with the members of Tycho and their opener/Scott Hanson’s best friend, Christopher Willits…
[LiS] What are you aiming to evoke in the listener with your new album Awake?
[Scott Hansen, unless otherwise noted] I am creating this framework for other people to project their ideas or emotions onto. It’s not like I set out to say this is about this, or this is about that. I couldn’t really speak to that specifically, but I think that I definitely wanted to project this new, darker feel — not in the emotional sense, but I think in terms of colors. So this was more in that tonal palette range, darker blue. That’s what I wanted it to feel like — maybe you were in a darkened room with some lights and silhouettes in the distance. I just wanted it to feel more driven and have more of an edge to it, whereas the old stuff felt more round and light.
Tycho‘s name is inspired from the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. He was an alchemist and astrologer. Scott Hanson is an alchemist himself, fusing his music and graphic design into one audiovisual force. For years Scott had put his graphic design work first and his music second. He never expected music to become such a huge part of his life.
How would you feel you balance your graphic design alias, ISO50, with Tycho?
Those worlds are finally coming together. I’m able to devote more time to learning and practicing music, so it started to hold more weight. I’m now realizing there’s a big connection between the two in terms of the ideas they both are trying express. That’s when I dedicated each new design or visual work solely to the music project.
You recently brought in a guitarist and a drummer for the project. What has bringing the live aspects in brought to the album?
I feel that having the three piece band, Zac Brown (guitar, bass) and Rory O’Connor (live drums) is finally allowing me to express the warmth the music was missing.
Scott considers Awake his first true album. The band members aided Scott in achieving the complexity he was not able to produce before.
Ah, the wonders of live elements. When it comes to constructing the song from scratch it’s easy to make the trade off with creativity for being perfectly orchestrated with everything else. The live element opens up a new opportunity for depth that wasn’t achievable prior.
Both the sound and artwork of Awake capture Hansen’s stylistic shift, conjuring a more kinetic and percussive sensory experience. Tycho aims to tell a story through the entire production and considers the show as much of a visual experience as it as an auditory one. Even the band is being projected on by Scott’s graphics. The cinematic style of visuals at the Summit Music Hall seemed to be depicting simultaneous stories interwoven into the theme of each song. One that made an impact was what seemed to be a woman’s spirit journey through the sand dunes (wearing nothing but a white sheet), transposing images of the spilling sand grains and a hawk’s flight-poetic. Much of it was iconic, simple shaped symbols that I’m not sure how to relate to the music, but I trust they do somehow…
What was the idea behind your silhouettes being projected on the screen?
It is our intention to be stark, bold images on the changing background represent the theme and tones that carry through the album, ever-changing in nature.
They were having issues having the screen down to the floor. We witnessed a heated debate between everyone about where the screen placement should be. When it was all the way down, the visuals were being washed out by the blue lights that created the band’s shadows. When the screen was off the ground, the visuals were more clear but their silhouettes were cut in half. It became increasingly clearer that Scott favored the visual clarity to be priority.
Where do you guys get the time to practice? In your dreams?
[Rori] We practice once a year for an entire month. We jam together for hours, and Scott takes samples from those jams. We have to go back and practice the parts that came naturally when we were jamming because they become so different in Scott’s rearrangement – we literally have to relearn everything.
Everyone’s wondering – what do the spectrally banded shapes represent on the Awake album cover?
Within the circle the colored lines, each represent an octave and a song on the album. The songs on the record are truly a unity between the octaves.
We spent some time talking about the origins of the images he chose. When I asked him about the programs he used for design, his eyes lit up. His super nerd/techie was showing for sure. Scott was rattling off foreign films and European directors with really guttural names I’m not even going to attempt to spell.
You’re Scott’s best friend and will be opening for Tycho during this tour regularly. Tell us about Scott and his vision?
[Christopher Willits] Scott is a composer. He trusts flow and appreciates having the band to bounce his ideas off of. He’s a deliberate song writer. He spends ten months at the least while recording an album. The songs come from hand selected samples from extended recorded jams with the band.
The goal is to create a sort of sound pressure that’s not overly positive or negative with varying rarefactions. There’s a science to affecting the stereo cilia. The pressure is varied so the cilia reacts accordingly, creating a more intentional trigger. The electricity this stimulates in the brain then creates imagery directly related to the sound.
Scott realizes that the idea of Tycho has become bigger than him in a way. It has become a process of surrendering to the will of the music and the stories it wants to tell.
Tycho’s schedule is packed tighter than a tranny’s junk, they are playing in a different city everyday… And Denver was just the fifth on the lineup after a substantial amount of time tromping across Europe.
Tycho – some groundbreaking weirdos with some seriously techi visions. They’re from the Bay, what did you expect?