Tycho’s Awake is the fourth album to appear from multi-instrumentalist Scott Hansen. Tycho is a project that mixes ambient synthesisers with guitars, pianos and drums to create a really interesting mix of musical stylings that has made Tycho a notable electronic act and new album Awake further proves this reputation.
The album starts with title track ‘Awake’ which features glorious synth melodies backed by crisp clean guitars while the bass holds the song together and works in harmony with the industrial rhythm of the drums. This song shows off how Hansen brings together many different instruments to create a unified musical direction. Some tracks just focus on one main instrument such as ‘L’ which has no guitar but has lots of different synth nodes operating together layered in loads of reverb for some great atmosphere. The general mood for ‘Awake’ is upbeat and happy but album closer ‘Plains’ has an almost melancholic mood to it as its lullaby-like melodies fade out to draw the album to an end.
Overall, the album has an improvised feel to it as song arrangements are all over the place and this is by no means a bad thing as the songs keep you on your toes with many unexpected surprises. One moment a beautiful synth passage might be playing and then suddenly it can switch into layered acoustic guitars. There also is an overall ghostly feel to the album as every track has reverb present, especially on the synths and guitars. This brings in some really cool atmosphere which is absolutely fantastic. It’s also very interesting in how the tempos can influence the mood of the song such as the track ‘Apogee’ which nearly verges onto drum ‘n’ bass but then shifts down into a more steady beat which allows the synths to create a wall of ethereal sound. Synths definitely are the high points of Awake as they serve to compliment which ever instrument is taking the lead. The opposite also happens with the bass, drums and guitars maintaining solid rhythm work while the synths take prominence. This is definitely a release that fans of other electronic acts such as Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada will enjoy. This album would also be good starting point for those that are new to the genre of electronica and ambient as well. This is a fine addition to Tycho’s discography and this will certainly become a part of his best work yet.