The best way to describe any Tycho song is that it always exhilarates like a delicate breeze entering a closed room, thanks to the band’s remarkably expansive organic instrumentation. Until the release of Dive, Tycho had been a solo project by San Francisco visual artist and producer Scott Hansen. Soon turned into a full-fledged band, Tycho have delivered some of the most entrancing ambient records – most notably the trilogy: Dive (2011), Awake (2014) and the Grammy nominated Epoch (2016).
This July, Tycho return with their fifth studio album Weather whose sophistication carries a strong emotional charge. Back in April, Tycho released the album’s first single ‘Easy’. As addressed by Hansen on social media, the song is a bridge to the future. “My journey as an artist has been defined by an iterative cycle with each album building on and refining an overarching vision. ‘Easy’ is about coming to terms with my past and defining a clear vision moving forward”.
Unlike Tycho’s previous albums, Weather surprises us with the addition of vocal components featuring Hannah Cottrell (aka Saint Sinner). Hansen had considered bringing in the vocals several times before, with 2006’s Past Is Prologue as well as their previous release Epoch, but he called it off after realising it being more a part of the story than he originally thought. In his latest interview with Exclaim!, Hansen described Weather as a way of inviting people into a personal space. “I wanted this to be a human record very much about personal, internal spaces; domestic scenes; and the emotions and the spaces that we deal with on a daily basis.”
Amongst all Saint Sinner tracks (which account for six out of nine), ‘Pink & Blue’ is certainly one of the highlights. According to the singer, “The lines, ‘Oh, pink and blue, you know I look good on you’, originally stemmed from when I was romantically involved with a man and a woman simultaneously, for the first time in my life. It was a defining moment for me.” Hannah’s singing manages to complement Tycho’s solidly-built beats, while another one of our favourites ‘No Stress’ comes off as comfortably sensuous and alluring.
As a long-time listener of Tycho’s, the ending/title track ‘Weather’ remains an absolute favourite of mine. It represents what Tycho are most capable of doing: to lift the spirit heavenward with pure instrumental music while rippling out warm embraces. Nevertheless, it’s great to see the band take a leap of faith and create something that is more than just “on brand”. Rather than Dive’s sunbeam-filled lullabies or Epoch’s transient aggression, Hansen has revealed a different side of Tycho by incorporating the vocals. It does take a couple more listens for fans to acclimate to the new style, but who says it’s a bad thing? Still, for those who are Tycho traditionalists, the instrumental version of the album is set to come out very soon – and alternating between the two shall be a good idea.