With Tycho’s Awake, out March 18th via Ghostly, the Sacramento-based audiovisual project helmed by Scott Hansen has reached a certain maturity, growing into a three-piece band and achieving, on the new record, an even more refined sense of clarity. Awake takes the evocative, pop-ambient synth work that made 2011′s Dive feel so oddly spiritual (and drew countless comparisons to Boards of Canada) and refocuses it into a cleaner, sharper post-rock context; it feels like an album that should be broadcast at night over the Grand Canyon. I spoke to Hansen about growing out of “the Instagram approach” to music producing, making headphone music work live and why he considers this “the first true Tycho record.”
The Fader: Where am I talking to you now?
Tycho: We’re in the studio, working on the live show. I’m working with the engineer who helped mix the record to translate the recorded stuff live. Last album, we struck the balance between having the live show sound more like the record, but over time, we decided we wanted a more ability to go off the beaten path, and we’re trying to skew the balance back to the performance end of things. It’s kind of headphone music at the end of the day, especially the older stuff, so we’re always trying to punch it up.
The Fader: You’ve called this “the first true Tycho record.” Why do you feel that way, even though you’ve been at it for a little while?
Tycho: I look at it from a career perspective, like what I was doing in my life when I made those other albums. My life revolved mostly around freelance graphic design work, and I wasn’t truly focused on music in the way that I am now. And back then, I hadn’t met musicians that I really resonated with in a songwriting context. Meeting Zac, meeting Rory and meeting Count, the engineer—forming relationships with them where we were comfortable enough to start creating together is what facilitated making this record the way I wanted. It was always my dream for Tycho to get to that point, it just took me 10 years to get there. This is what I wanted Tycho to be all along.
The Fader: So it’s a proper band now.
Tycho: Now I kind of look at at is: I’m in a band, and I play keyboards and guitar and bass, and I also produce that band. You put on two different hats. Working with Zac in particular, we came up with basic ideas and then spent time in different places for a couple weeks at a time working through them, developing songs. Then I went back and produced them out, and we spent a few weeks at the end flashing and burning and doing the hard decisions I wasn’t objective enough to make in the past. From songwriting to arrangement, we worked really closely. Rory, the drummer—I always hear these drum patterns and swells in the music, but I’ve never had the ability or energy to achieve that with electronic programming. He was able to just sit down, hear the music and go.
Read the rest via The Fader
Scott and I have been huge fans of Gardens & Villa since we heard them at a bar in Denver, CO during a Tycho tour so we’re happy be able to share their new album with you in full on ISO50. There’s always a place for a new act that will grow to the size of a band like Grizzly Bear and I think Gardens & Villa could be that band. I remember running across the Sasquatch Festival with some urgency a few years back and stopped in my tracks hearing “Star Fire Power” being played live, it felt like they should have been on the main stage with Bon Iver and Beck.
On a similar sound tip i’d say they sound like Small Black and the meat and potatoes of Youth Lagoon, maybe a sort of city born cousin of Midlake. Dunes has a drive to it but not for pop radio or just indie, they’re some sort of heartthrob that sits in between that is honest to themselves.
Dunes is out now on Secretly Canadian
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Photo credit: Neil Favila
Mark McGuire is back with a gorgeous LP that climbs up and down the desert hills searching for that song that will have you loving him all over again. I remember we’ve had our favorites in the past like Brain Storm (For Erin) or the lo-fi lush Mark that originally brought him to us via Editions Mego or even the noiser Mark that pushed his sound to an almost open and harsher level. This album shows maturity in that sense where things feel like they made in a clear space. The diversity is also there but the expanse within one song reaches new levels for his work which seems to be one of the best routes for his style of music.
“Along The Way” is out on Dead Oceans now
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Paul Lehr illustrated a ton of work for sci-fi kings like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and H.G. Wells. While last week we saw John Berkey’s scientific and technical approach to space craft and space flight, Lehr’s work is certainly more organic in both his subjects and technique. He leans more towards fantasy-like creatures, life forms, and orbs. There is also a recurring scene of numerous people all surrounding an object or life form. I find it interesting when artists have a heavy overarching presence of certain themes in their art; links between separate bodies of work. I was thinking while posting this week’s covers how different one artist’s view of the future can be from the others’. I think that seeing each artist’s different take on the future will be an interesting part of this series.
I’m curious–does anyone has any favorite images from this week or a preference between the styles seen this week or last?
Posted by Smyjewski
I’ve collected all the remixes i’ve done and put them in one location and easily downloaded as a WAV or MP3 for everyone. Everything other than the Slowdive remix was a remix swap or a remix for a friend, hope you enjoy in your headphones and share it.
1. Loscil – Hundred (Heathered Pearls’ survey the wreckage remix) 04:48
2. Throwing Snow – Melum (Heathered Pearls’ dormancy remix) 03:33
3. Dirty Beaches – Casino Lisboa (Heathered Pearls’ dead time rework) 04:49
4. Diana – Born Again (Heathered Pearls’ avión remix) 05:38
5. Slowdive – Melon Yellow (Heathered Pearls’ tension rework) 04:46
6. Indian Wells – In The Streets (Heathered Pearls’ nautical remix) 02:59
7. Solar Year – Lines (Heathered Pearls’ serenity remix) 04:00
A more than proper label out of London, The Trilogy Tapes has exposed a lot of heavy lo-fi dance producers. They have a focus and character to them that labels can only dream about. Enjoy the playlist and get nosey around in their shop, definitely worth your time if you collect physical music.
The Trilogy Tapes – SOUNDCLOUD / SHOP (VINYL / TAPE / SHIRTS)
One of my first vinyl purchases of 2013 really held up, Umberto has this way with that horror soundtrack sound that doesn’t veer off into its normal vintage pigeon hole. There’s beautiful synth work all the way to the last song, my personal favorite has to be track 2 “Initial Revelation”.
Please support the artist direct PHYSICAL / DIGITAL
Recap of all top 5 overlooked albums of 2013:
#5 Miles – Faint Hearted
#4 Lawrence – Films & Windows
#3 Soviet Soviet – Fate
#2 Huerco S. – Colonial Patterns
#1 Umberto – Confrontations
Ducking into used bookstores over weekends and after work, I have become a bit of a sci-fi paperback junky. I love the feeling of rummaging through stacks of forgotten paperbacks and discovering that hidden gem of a cover. There is just something about the idea of the future as illustrated by artists of the past that I find fascinating. If you do enough digging you can come away with some great covers for under a few bucks. Recently I began scanning and cataloguing my finds and this has led me to the idea for a new blog series I will be posting here on Sundays. Every week my post will be inspired by one of the covers I own or a new find. Some of these may be well known while others more obscure. I look at this as a way to learn about and resurrect some of the great cover illustrators and designers of the sci-fi genre. If you have suggestions or your own favorites, leave a comment or contribute to the collection of covers with a nice straight on shot of your find and tag it #Sundayscifi on Instagram. I started the tag off with a few of my own images but I would love everyone to include their finds.
To start the post off, I am featuring one of the better known artists of the sci-fi genre. Most know John Berkey for his illustrations for Star Wars, but he holds a massive catalogue of varying types of work. Beginning in the 1960s, he was commissioned by NASA to further their space program as part of their efforts to travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and ultimately to the moon. No matter the type of work, I consistently love his use of color. My personal favorite thing about his work are his spaceships. The details of his images draw you in and you can get lost looking at every tiny detail he includes.
Posted by Smyjewski