By Josh Herwitt //
It wasn’t that long ago that I stumbled upon Scott Hansen and his musical project Tycho.
At the time, I had heard good things about the San Francisco-based act, but I had yet to take the time to find out for myself.
So, when I learned last spring that Tycho was tabbed as the opening act for a Sound Tribe Sector 9 show I had already been scheduled to cover, I knew I had to make the most of my opportunity.
And boy, am I glad that I did.
Because since that night more than a year ago, I have come to realize that Hansen’s foray into music deserves just as much praise as the photography and design work he produces under his ISO50 moniker. In fact, when I saw Tycho perform just a few months later at the boutique festival Lightning in a Bottle, it only validated those initial feelings I had at the Hollywood Palladium.
Fast forward to this month, and Tycho’s appeal has only continued to grow among the masses. With the release of its fourth full-length album Awake in March, the four-piece band — Hansen (guitar, bass, synthesizers, programming, visuals), Zac Brown (bass, guitar), Rory O’Connor (drums) and newest member Joe Davancens (bass, guitar, keyboards, synthesizers) — packed The Fonda Theatre for two sold-out performances, showcasing both new and old material after Santa Barbara’s Gardens & Villa warmed up the crowd with its unique brand of indie-synth rock.
But what may be most impressive about Tycho is the way Hansen continues to captivate electronic-leaning audiences without any of the EDM flare that so many big-name DJs abuse these days.
After all, Hansen’s music is not to be confused with the EDM tsunami that’s taken the music industry by storm over the last five years. Rather, these are ambient soundscapes rooted in techno, with dashes of IDM and downtempo sprinkled throughout. Unlike the deep thud of house, trap or dubstep, these are moments of introspection and inspiration metamorphosed into rich, sonic layers and textures.
It’s fitting, then, that Hansen’s visuals — from sweeping, majestic landscape shots of nature to more traditional geometric shapes — pair perfectly with the mood his music affords listeners.
This is nothing new for Hansen, though. He’s been working at his craft for over 10 years, starting with his self-produced EP The Science of Patterns back in 2002. But a lot changed for Hansen in 2008 when he left Merck Records and signed a deal with Ghostly International, paving the way for 2011’s Dive, which garnered critical acclaim while drawing comparisons to chillwave artists like Washed Out and Toro Y Moi.
As its successor, Awake feels very much like an extension of Dive, and we were treated to a majority of the eight-track LP at The Fonda, along with a few cuts from 2006’s Past Is Prologue.
Of course, if there were any grievances to air, it was that Hansen and his sidekicks didn’t play quite long enough. For an hour and 15 minutes, they hypnotized a room full of fans with one ambient groove after another, taking us on a short vacation from Planet Earth in the process. As we would later find out when the house lights came back on, the only problem with that was it had to eventually end.