[ALBUM REVIEW] Tycho’s Epoch – A Recommend-Worthy Evolution
I’m “friends” with a girl – She once threatened to steal my parents’ porch chairs. I’m sure I was a horse’s ass at some point. We saw each other at a show a little while ago and buried the hatchet. I think. – that had a fantastic way of describing why some people listen to bad music.
My friend, “Sara,” said that her friend loved Top 40 radio hits. I won’t get too broad with things and start bashing pop music: I”ll just go with the facts: Sara’s friend not only didn’t know anything further about certain bands/artists that were on the radio, but she didn’t care to dive deeper into their catalogs, let alone anyone else’s.
Sara’s friend couldn’t have cared less about what was “good” or “different” about music and if you’re pissed off or offended while reading this, trust that I was right there with you while I was hearing it.
“How could yo… But wha… How can someone juss… I mean doesn’t she wanna… And iTunes has a screensaver with album art that’s beauti… I don’t understand, Sara.”
Sara let me catch my breath and then said she’d realized that her friend wasn’t dumb. She wasn’t a dullard in any sense, really, and that instead of leaning on what so many of us (admit it) have done before by attributing intelligence to knowledge of music, Sara said this:
“She just hasn’t heard anything yet that’s moved her to go searching for more.”
Profound as fuck. Never thought of that scenario. Sara’s friend, Sara surmised, had simply not come across anything that’d flipped her lid and freaked her out. She probably never had anyone make her sit and listen to “just this one song and then I’ll leave you alone, I swear.”
Sad thought. Sara had a way with making things that were tragic magnetic instead of appalling.
Everyone’s got an album that started it. Everyone that’s had it started for them also surely paid it forward and knows an album or mixtape or set of tracks that they set someone else up with that started them up. Circle of life, yo.
With the stuff that we’re listening to now, it’s more experimental and people keep pushing auditory boundaries. The trick is to make it listenable. Great albums, cohesive collections that give a listener the permission to trust what’s coming next is going to be good is rarer than quiet apartment neighbors, these days.
By the way, those moments that changed the way you perceived the world. Those moments that made things like gusts of wind and long drives matter. The word,which defines a period of time in a person’s life that was All-Star special?
Front to back, this one jams. Same as always for Tycho, the creative collaborative led by Scott Hansen, but different. To me, anyway.
They slam on this one, man. They really get after it. There’s a rambunctiousness sensibility incorporated to their echoes and tones. The beats build as they have in the past albums, Awake and Dive, with pristine cymbal-crashes and distortions that have a wavy, coastal resonance, but there’s this jazz-trio/jam-band sort of vibe where things seem almost improvised.
The song ‘Rings’ is a perfect snapshot of what this album is. To me, it comes in and out of being composed and spazzes out in between those structures .Like a fireworks show in fast forward, there’s way too much going on to grab a hold of it all and you either try to focus on distinct details and instruments or you just sit, wide-eyed and not focus on anything but the entirety of it all.
There are drops and ballad-like guitar intros. The vibes are airy and there’s a backbone to it all. The major takeaway from Epoch is that each track is both accessible and experimental. It’s wild stuff, as Tycho has always been as a musical entity. It’s also has this palletability that leaves me with no fear of weird looks or veiled thanks for recommending it to a friend that doesn’t know anyone past the first two rows of a festival lineup.
It’s weird penning a review because the “critique” is often seen as a “Yes, but…” effort in describing something, as if I’ve gotta deduct points on a Ferrari because there’s a smudge on the window. Not gonna happen here. I don’t see anything wrong and didn’t once think that what I was listening to could be made better if I got my no-instrument-playing hands on it.
Thing is, I know so much about these guys. Ghostly International, their label, is the one of the leaders in distributing the genre of tunes we hear but can’t quite describe. From Adult Swim bumpers to half of the cool hyperlapse videos on Youtube to this commercial that ruled the almost-smartphone landscape, Ghostly has been keeping it chill and rhythmic for a while.
And Tycho is one of my favorite groups…or artists… from this album label. Seen them north of four times. Multiple people are on stage playing multiple instruments and multiple electronic knob-ridden apparatuses as multiple layers of sharply colored images flow over and around them. Rooted in rhythm, each song grows and blossoms along with the minimal-yet-mathematical visuals put together by Scott.
And by the way, the art. A sincere pillar for why I dropped out of law school and decided to go full-tilt creative with my career and life and hopes for paying health insurance was Tycho and Scott Hansen. In addition to the talent and imagery that has a “makes it look easy” aura to it, Scott’s blog and official Tycho website, iso50, is an almost open forum for artists that he and the rest of those that ride alongside him are into.
Reminiscent to Kanyeuniversecity.com and past Neptunes/Star Trak blogs, I lean on this website for what’s dope. Or what’s fascinating. Or what I don’t quite like but can certainly take something away from and appreciate. Or where I can learn how the hell something gets diced up and put back together in After Effects. There’s a myriad of talent coming from this realm and if there’s one thing to to take away from this review, other than this album’s a well-composed and bombastic 9.0/10 after 3 listens, it’s that the realm where these artists exist – this “murky-genre, all-inclusive, jack-of-all-trades AND master of them, too” creative space – is one that should be commended for not only pushing the boundaries, but making those pushes satisfactory ones. Not necessarily cushioning things, but simply having that experiment work.
Don Draper had a line where he was asked, while high, how he felt.
“It’s like I’m Dorothy and everything just went to color.”
I’m always thankful that I can feel that over and over again. So fortunate to come across new music I like, even if it’s one or two tracks at a time before the full release, which is how Tycho rolled things out here – first with Epoch, then with Division, a frenetic tune with tones of Amon Tobin and Mute Math involved. There’s a lot of diversity on this record and if you can funnel all of that into something worthwhile, that, itself, is quite a feat.
So as it grows a bit colder while inch closer and closer to winter, it’s important to be giving to those that are less fortunate. I don’t mean that in a facetious way, either. Go volunteer for a day or take a trip with half the clothes you never fold and give those to the needy. Then afterwards, listen to this album and that energetically joyous feeling will be compounded, auditorily. This music literally sounds like brand new happiness. It’s a fantastic way to spend an hour and after you’re done, seek out someone you know isn’t getting what they could be, vibrance-wise.
Do it or I’ll steal your lawn furniture. ~ TH
Download album here:
TYCHO TOUR DATES
09 30 – Dallas, TX – Bomb Factory ^ ~
10 01 – El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls ^
10 02 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre ^ ~
10 04 – Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl ^ ~
10 16 – San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island
01 21 – Singapore, SP – Laneway Festival
01 26 – Brisbane, AU – Laneway Festival
01 28 – Melbourne, AU – Laneway Festival
01 30 – Auckland, NZ – Laneway Festival
02 03 – Adelaide, AU – Laneway Festival
02 04 – Sydney, AU – Laneway Festival
02 05 – Fremantle, AU – Laneway Festival
^ – Heathered Pearls
~ – Big Wild