An artist and graphic designer – trading under the name of ISO50 – Scott Hansen is also a musician. And Tychno is the point where these two art forms meet. Now augmented for live shows by Zac Brown on guitar, drummer Rory O’Connor and Joe Davencens on bass, keyboards and synthesisers, Hansen’s audio-visual project tonight rolls into Leeds on the next leg of their Awake World Tour – a huge, sprawling schedule that will see Tycho traverse the globe before bringing in the New Year in Australia.
A tour named after Tycho’s fourth album – released earlier this year and the first long player on which Hansen has recorded as a three piece (alongside Brown and O’Connor) – Awake is the record that announced Tycho’s gravitational pull shift away from its tranquil techno core towards something far more expansive and robust.
In concert, Awake – tonight Tycho play all bar one of its eight tracks; ‘Plains’ is the one that fails to make the final cut – sounds, if anything, even more muscular as the organic bass, guitar and drums add greater ballast to Hansen’s synthetic, electronic sweep. Performed in front of a screen full of Hansen’s own visual images – perfectly synchronised montages of sun, sand and surf co-exist with geometric, psychedelic shapes and signs – the warmth of the music affirms that Tycho do indeed hail from the Golden State.
Yet as Hansen himself has pointed out, San Francisco can also be a pretty rainy place too and beneath this glorious instrumental sheen lies its occasionally darker underbelly. A subterranean viscus of isolation and sadness adds emphatic shade to those lighter synthesised tones.
Rubbing shoulders with the material from Awake is a double-handful of songs from its predecessor Dive – opener ‘Adrift’ creates a wonderful sense of peaceful ambience – and a couple of tunes from the 2006 album Past Is Prologue, but it is the final, triple fusillade from this year’s record – the nagging urgency of ‘Spectre’ morphs into the endless straight of Awake’s mesmeric title track before the band return for a final, euphoric blast of ‘Montana’ complete with its faux-‘Pretty Vacant’ intro and glorious melodic shimmer – that pushes this show way beyond the boundary of very good and into the realms of self-assured excellence.
More photos from this show can be found here