San Francisco-based Tycho (born Scott Hansen) certainly takes his time. His new Ghostly International release, Dive, comes a full five years after his previous full-length, Past Is Prologue (2006, Merck) and Tycho appears blissfully ignorant of almost every major trend in electronic music that occurred in the interim. His signature sound palette, which owes a great stylistic debt to Campfire Headphase-era Boards Of Canada, is a velvety, reverb-drenched soft-focus swirl, rife with live guitars and ethereal synths. This dignified aesthetic remains so consistent between the two albums that you’d likely never guess half a decade elapsed between them.
The most immediately noticeable difference on Dive is the tempo. Where Past Is Prologue strolled through warm, hazy soundscapes, Dive sometimes gallops, particularly on the first half of the album. Stellar single “Hours” employs propulsive, gently overdriven bass and a persistent single-note rhythm guitar line as a counterpoint to soft, spacey synth pads to an almost genuinely hypnotic effect. Somewhat less captivating is the nearly eight-and-a-half minute title track, which squanders a breathtaking break down-build up sequence by becoming a bit aimless and meandering toward the end. “Coastal Brake” uses a four on the floor kick drum pattern and then masterfully de-emphasizes it, ultimately sounding more like a warm breeze with a dance club in the distance than a club track. The second half of the album is geared more towards the dreamy, 90 beats per minute IDM prevalent on Hansen’s other releases, notable departures being the pretty, almost countrified guitar parts on the nearly percussionless “Melanine” and closing track “Elegy”.
On Dive, Tycho keeps the warm, analog-sounding instrumentation that made his prior works the cornerstone of discerning sleepers’ bedtime playlists everywhere, and adds just enough variation of tempo to make this album applicable in waking life. It’s ethereal without being creepy, which is something downtempo artists tend to struggle with. It’s warm and sweet without being cloying, something artists of all stripes struggle with. Scott Hansen may not be very prolific producer, but Dive is more than rewarding enough to excuse his sporadic output.
3.5 out of 5
Stream “Hours” below.[audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/02-Hours.mp3|titles=Tycho – Hours]