Tycho’s Scott Hansen explores the warmest corners of electronic music,
using well-worn vintage synths to float dreamy melodies over insistent stutters
and clatters of percussion. He splices organic sounds – scratchy acoustic
guitars, the distant boom of bass, human voices – into otherworldly soundscapes
seamlessly, so that notes made by instruments sound as luminous, as idealized
as those elicited from synths and programming decks.
Listen for instance, to the way synthetic washes of tone crest and fade
in “Hours,” the album’s standout track, one synthesizer laying a foundation,
while another picks out a cerebral melody. A crisp, minimalist rhythm kicks in
on snare and cymbal, lending a twitchy sensuality. And then there is the bass,
soft, but insistently physical, as it grounds “Hours” in the world of blood and
breath and sweat. There are lots of different elements in “Hours” but they
co-exist in a sort of super-real clarity. You feel no confusion or complexity,
just a bright, warm rush of serenity.
Hansen has obviously been influenced by the warmer, more emotionally
driven electronicists – Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss – as he uses
machine-derived sounds to conjure memory, longing, hope and happiness. Sounds
are rounded, rather than precisely delineated, so that even the chilliest
keyboard tones linger, mutate and bend as you listen to them. The sense of
brightness, lucidity and calm consideration is embedded in all the parts,
organic and synthetic, as well as in the way they interact with one another.
Natural, real-world sounds occupy the foreground of a couple of these
cuts, most notably “Melanine” which follows a couple of intersecting guitar
parts through multi-colored flutes and pings and whooshes of synthesizer. Elsewhere,
on “Epigram” the muted roughness of breakbeat percussion rattles through
fragile, soap-bubble-colored keyboard riffs without popping a single one. Yet
mostly, you hear organic sounds through a surreal scrim of otherworldliness, as
if a guitar were playing in the other room while you were sleeping and you had
to get it into the dream or wake up.
Listened to all at once, Dive is almost too relaxing, and if you can avoid slipping into a semi-daze before
the second half, you’re more disciplined than me. Yet it’s a happy, bright
trance, not necessarily to be avoided. C’mon. Dive in.
DOWNLOAD: “Hours” “Dive” JENNIFER KELLY