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Posted on December 19th, 2011 (9:13 am) by Ralph Reed

As I listened to Tycho’s new album Dive, I had the sudden desire to take part in a montage where I hop in a black IROC-Z and speed down Highway 1 while a girl takes a series of polaroids of me (only to unexplainably throws them to the wind once I lower the top down). These mental vignettes are to the credit of San Francisco producer and graphic artist Tycho (Scott Hansen), who does not fail to produce a sense of mood and place on his new album; this is definitely late night driving music at it’s finest. However, there is a lack of direction and variation that doesn’t lend itself to deep listening. What Tycho does well is the musical version of his graphic art (ISO50), washed-out nostalgia-inspired sounds of the ease of endless summers gone by. He never strays very far from this sound, and therefore there is a lack of drama in this music which borders on monotony.

The first thing that strikes the listener is the depth and richness of the synths. On the first track, “A Walk,” you swim around inside the layers of rich pads. Tycho is adept at manipulating sound to create a real depth of field on this record, and he spends most of his time playing within this sound space. Sounds move back and forth, receding and rushing towards the listening. It’s a welcome change in an age when so many albums are flattened within an inch of their life. But As Mae West said, “too much of a good thing can be taxing,” and there is a point where so much reverberating washiness wears a little thin. Tycho does really creative things with reverb and delay; the issue is he does them all the time. It’s not that I don’t like it; it’s just that if you keep feeding me Halloween candy, eventually I’m not going to want any more candy corn, and this record is all reverberated candy corn all the time.

What this record does have in spades is mood, feeling, and ambiance. It’s a pretty sexy record when he tightens up the bass and brings the kick drum in. Some of the tracks are a little lacking in the proverbial “trunk junk,” but when he brings it together (like on the great opening to “Coastal Brake”), everything falls into place as a great mood record. Of course, however, things occasionally do go off the rails. There are some unfortunate ‘90s drum breaks scattered throughout the record (“Daydream”), while “Ascension” does Phil Collins by way of a Peruvian flute band. For the most part, though, Tycho sets up a great feel and sticks to it throughout the ten tracks, however, it’s not much more than a mood record. Good for driving, or at a party, or while washing your dishes, but lacks the heft for focused listening.

Track Listing
1. A Walk
2. Hours
3. Daydream
4. Dive
5. Coastal Brake
6. Ascension
7. Melanine
8. Adrift
9. Epigram
10. Elegy

Tycho: Dive
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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