You don’t need to be Beyonce to drop an album unexpectedly and send the Internets into a tizzy.
Today, Tycho (aka Scott Hansen and friends) surprised his loyal, quiet following with his complete fourth studio album, Epoch. You can listen to the full thing here.
“10 years ago next month the first Tycho record, Past is Prologue, was released and it's been an incredible journey,” Tycho posted on Facebook. “We finished the album less than a month ago and decided to forego the typical release schedule and just put the record out as soon as possible. We're all very excited for you to be able to hear it so soon after it was completed.”
Fans of Hansen’s ambient, gorgeous art will be both relieved and impressed by band’s subtle, ongoing evolution. Epoch retains all the swirling, weightless elements we desperately cling to with Tycho, but weathers new territory with surprising, heavier elements.
Epoch begins with the spacey, appropriately titled “Glider.” Where past albums provide the sweet sensation of serenely floating or levitating above the rocky earth, this first track is propelling us quickly out of earth’s atmosphere. “Horizon” also feels familiar, rapidly drawing the listener in.
It is the third track, and the one I’ve chosen to spotlight today, that really is surprising flight from the norm. “Slack’s” impatient start and heavier beat feels far more sobering and grounded than previous Tycho tracks. This is a gravity check. I am smitten by the silence that finds you at 1:53. And then the final 60 seconds of the song demands your attention. This isn’t your quiet background noise anymore. Tycho is unapologetically asking you to focus on this song alone.
“Receiver” confuses our senses again with quiet, radio signals-- goosebumps trickling down your arms. I exceptionally love the fluttering piano keys in this track. “Epoch,” you should already know and love. “Division,” the next focus of the album, opens into a safe oasis, after a fuzzy, cymbal-heavy start. It is this song that most reminds me of Explosions in the Sky. “Source” is an echo-y spell. Notes dart back and forth, chasing each other into the last light of the day.
Now this, this, is where the album changes pace and hue.
“Local” is new territory for us, the band. This heavy guitar-laden, synth-weighted song could only belong and be alluding to the salty coast of San Francisco. This is the noise of the piers and the waves and feels like, by far, the biggest departure for the band. “Rings” continues this noisey excursion. You won’t feel weightless, no. More like speeding on a dirt road -- swift, but never so fast that your vision blurs completely.
“Continuum” is then a depression. We’ve collapsed into ourselves again, floating near the end of our tale. This song is quick, so you don’t get too attached in this sweet purgatory. Which brings us to the finale, “Field.” Two minutes and forty seconds of slow strumming. This song is the release of your journey, the smell of home, the softness in your head. It is so gentle and delicate you dare not breathe over it.
And then, it disappears into the shadows of our rooms, but not before illuminating every crevice of our hearts.