For nearly a decade, Tycho has been known as the musical alias of Scott Hansen, but with the release of Awake – his second LP for Ghostly International – the solo project has evolved into a three-piece band. Relating closer to post-rock than ambient soundscapes, the record is situated in the present, sounding more like Hansen than drawing from his influences. “This is, in many ways, the first true Tycho record.”
Following 2011’s Dive LP, the San Francisco-based designer toured extensively, and with a full band on stage, his sound coalesced into a percussive, organic whole. Zac Brown (guitars, bass) rejoined Scott on the road for this tour, but it was the particular addition of Rory O’Connor’s live drumming that ultimately sent Hansen back to the studio with a more precise vision. “After the tour, I decided that I wanted to capture the more energetic, driven sound of the live show on the next album,” Hansen recalls. Bringing musicians into Tycho’s creative process was a step towards expanding his own songwriting and advancing the project beyond its current sound.
In a cabin near Tahoe last winter, Zac and Scott began fleshing out the structure of the new record, but it wasn’t until they set up shop in the hills of Santa Cruz with Rory that it all fell into place. “It crystallized the vision of how the drums would come to the forefront on this record,” says Hansen. The sound was much more stripped-down and concise with more organic instruments in the fold. Songs like “Montana” and “Awake” are a departure from Tycho’s previous material – unique to the group effort poured into the songs on the new record – while “See” and “Dye” echo ideas from previous works, bridging a middle ground between the old and new. Working with Count Eldridge, who also engineered Dive, the team could fixate on the pulses that Tycho might previously layer under synthesizers and exhume them with distinct bass and guitar patterns.
Also known for his design work as ISO50, Hansen’s visual and sonic efforts have dovetailed throughout the course of his career. “This is the first time in my life I’ve dropped everything to focus on one artistic pursuit,” notes Hansen. Previous Tycho releases came to fruition when an amalgam of songs were nearing completion, but Awake is where music becomes the focus and true expression becomes the result.