Tycho - Epoch

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2017-01-20

Scott Hansen, aka Tycho, is back with his fourth album, Epoch, and it follows almost exactly in the footsteps of his previous work, Awake. You'd be hard pressed to really find any distinguishing features between the two sets. And that's not a bad thing, since Awake was so fantastic. Epoch is like its equally lustrous twin moon.

Tycho is not complicated music. It's easy listening in the most literal sense, loaded with simple, lovely melodies that don't challenge the listener to do a lot of heavy lifting or mental gymnastics to "figure it out". It's low effort, high reward stuff that pleases the ear instantly on the first listen, and continues to please for many listens thereafter. It lends itself to quite a few different ways of listening. It's mellow enough that it can be background for working or reading, but it's got enough energy that it works for driving or working out too. It's versatile and charismatic, always appropriate, and utterly unpretentious. This also makes it sound incredibly commercial ready, the ultimate musical hot-take.

While the first track, 'Glider', is more of a pure electronic experience, gently guiding the listener into the world of sounds to come, Hansen more frequently skirts the line between ambient electronic and post rock, as he does in the second track, 'Horizon', and is adept in both genres. 'Division' is a good example of this, alternating slow electronic melodies with faintly gritty guitar and bass, with lots of big washes swirling around in the background. 'Local' does something similar, with its echoing guitars and shimmering percussion blended with nicely spacey sound effects.

If Hansen commits any sin, it's that individual songs aren't very distinct. The whole album has a kind of drop in, drop out feeling to it, such that it can be picked up at any old place and it doesn't matter all that much, as you'll just step into the flow and circle around endlessly, like one of those lazy rivers at a water park. Second track 'Horizon' is an exemplar of this vibe, with its easy groove that seems to briefly coalesce from mist before dissolving back into it.

And again, none of these are bad things. Hansen is comfortable doing what he does, and he solidly achieves his goal of making what amounts to the vanilla ice cream of music: something mild and inoffensive, something just about everyone will enjoy, and something whose humble appearance belies just how delicious and satisfying it can be.

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