tycho – epoch

– featured image courtesy of lauren crew –

“album of the fortnight” is a new bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: tycho.

The public’s perception of scott hansen’s work as tycho has, up until september 30th, been primarily informed by two studio albums: 2011’s dive and 2014’s awake.  sure, there’s his 2006 debut, past is prologue, but that album feels like a true prologue, just a hint of the aesthetic hansen would soon craft.

dive is aqueous, spacious, patient enough to allow monolithic soundscapes to emerge from subterranean depths.  echoes of chillwave inevitably reverberate off of the album’s cavernous confines, but dive feels primarily concerned with absorbing and retaining as much potential energy as possible.  hansen then released that energy in kinetic form on awake; the acquisition of drummer rory o’connor, kept on retainer by ghostly international before becoming a full-fledged member of tycho, propelled the octet of songs considerably, toying with polyrhythms and busy subdivisions while still letting pockets of ambience bleed into the texture.

it’s fitting, then, that hansen has been so forthcoming about cherry-picking the best of both constructed worlds and inserting them into his latest full-length, epoch.  tycho’s fourth album is an even split between ambient and kinetic, meting out wondrous, pulsating exercises while simultaneously expanding the project’s more pensive arm to turn in thoughtful, incredibly measured interludes as counterpoint.

tycho-epoch

“glider” percolates, “division” stutters, synths on “local” slowly swallow a trebly guitar motif; action verbs are a dime a dozen throughout epoch, a clear-eyed realization of hansen’s near-decade of work.  central melodic figures feel less and less important, as cacophony and fugue structure are more necessary to achieve such a massive, continuous wall of sound.

o’connor’s drumming throughout epoch is an explicit force to be reckoned with.  much of the album’s true nuances don’t present themselves as such, as blistering, metronomic sub-divisions and deft polyrhythmic misdirections are hard to miss.  percussion is the key ingredient to tycho’s secret recipe; epoch reads closer to a rock record than anything else in hansen’s canon, a transformation that can be largely attributed to o’connor’s near-perpetual residence in the foreground of each song’s mix.

epoch has been billed as a dark chapter in the chronicle of tycho, though this ominous tone is, at times, difficult to discern.  maybe it lurks deeper in the shadows, a covert operative.  for those not intimately invested in its creation, epoch reads more like the sunset that can be interpreted from its album artwork: a twilight performance with a final burst of energy before a long, pensive period of hibernation.  perhaps tycho will venture into more overtly murky territory in the future; for now, let epoch soundtrack the waning moments of your day.

 –

Advertisement

tycho – “epoch”

– featured image courtesy of lauren crew –

scott hansen’s most recent full-length effort under his tycho moniker, 2014’s awake, is a sonic diary outfitted for westward treks via automobile to watch the sun set behind a bank of mountains.  the album’s eight tracks are a perfect union of post-rock grandeur and cascading ambient soundscapes, a mesh of motion and meditation.  after nearly two years of touring endlessly in support of awake, hansen returned home and slowed the project down earlier this year, intent on recording a new album.

it’s not clear if “epoch” is the impending album’s title track, but tycho’s latest single is described as indicative of a darker sonic evolution hansen sees his project taking.  “epoch” still resonates as anthemic – or, more accurately, multiple anthems stacked atop one another to eventually achieve blissful cacophony – but there are enough brooding undercurrents in the track’s murky bass line and hesitant, melancholic synth figures packed in as well to give it a distinctly ominous tone that hasn’t really existed this prominently in tycho’s music before.

the follow-up to awake is gestating; there’s no word on a title or a release date, but the new album will most likely appear sometime next year, probably on tycho’s longtime home, ghostly international.  for now, spend some time with “epoch,” below.

beacon – escapements

beacon
out february 5th via ghostly international

the collaboration between thomas mullarney iii and jacob gossett has proved fruitful; as beacon, the brooklyn duo has slowly transformed an art institute friendship into a tour de force of murky, nocturnal soundscapes laced with seductive vocals and fastidious drum beats.  on escapements, beacon’s second full-length, mullarney and gossett double down on the nuances of their compositional integrity to turn in a final product packed with a strong awareness of form, deeply-buried grooves, and subtle about-faces.

escapements are the mechanisms inside clocks tasked with regulating time; while immediately analogous to the metronomic pulse of tracks like “preserve” and “better or worse,” the term refers more to the duo’s exploration of the finite, the inevitability of decay.  the opening line of “running out” (“what if my luck run out / in these games we play”) and the abrupt shifts in dynamics and tone on tracks like “backbone” and “still” find beacon harnessing this relative brevity, using it both to their immediate advantage and as a thematic tool for ambiguous introspection.

beacon’s insatiable appetite for bending new textures and structures to fit their needs resonates so deeply across escapements.  brooding, r&b-influenced palettes may be the duo’s bread and butter, but it routinely transcends a two-dimensional plane with purposeful countermelodies (“preserve,” “backbone”) and an adroit use of polyrhythm (“running out,” “l1”).  when an a-b structure threatens to become mundane, mullarney and gossett return to pop conventions or flirt with a theme and variation.  when an electronic timbre has become all but uniform, they infuse the soundscape with guitars (“escapements,” “still”) or veer off into the uncharted church organ territories of “you’re wandering.”

escapements is a soundtrack for the nights you spend in the company of another.  its lurking sub-bass throbs like a second heartbeat, working in tandem with percussion to propel the perpetual union of gossett’s aqueous arpeggios and mullarney’s stratospheric sighs.  tycho drummer rory o’connor drops by to add an organic touch to a handful of tracks, augmenting the duo’s intimacy while taking care to never overstep any boundaries.  it’s all these subtle flourishes and enhancements together that make beacon’s work so invigorating, from the sultry, stuttering hook on “im u” through to the infectious melody that bounces across “preserve.”  escapements is an album near impossible to put down; go pick it up.

beacon – “escapements”

beacon 1 chad kamenshine
photo courtesy of chad kamenshine

brooklyn duo beacon are prepping their sophomore full-length, escapements, out this friday via ghostly international.  after loosing a pair of indelible singles over the past few months, thomas mullarney iii and jacob gossett have shared the album’s title track, a composition defined by liquid synth pads that slowly dissolve into a seductive, nocturnal texture coated with mullarney’s consonant sighs.  take a listen to “escapements” below.