Tycho chill out with Epoch and visuals at the Electric Factory
Tycho | photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN

Music’s purpose is to express and modulate emotions. We use it to soothe, psych up, woo, enrage, sadden and cheer each other, or ourselves. It’s a gift that we share.

For Scott Hansen, a San Francisco based artist and musician, he started to share his gift in 2001 through the form of a once small project called Tycho. Fast forward fifteen years and his musical expression turned into the Grammy-nominated album, Epoch, released in 2016. Whether it’s through the outlet of his visual work under ISO50 or the audible landscape of Tycho, Hansen has carefully led the growth of a bedroom side project into a fully live band that not only captures their audience’s attention, but also their imagination.

It’s no surprise as to why Epoch was nominated. With its electronic beauty, the album glides from dreamland to nostalgia while keeping a progressive beat to carry the listener along its journey. An ambient music that for me, evokes strong visual representations, and this is where Hansen’s ability to conjure images of peaceful and serene atmospheres, not only in his musical endeavors, but in the visual work surrounding the musical performance is what truly sets Tycho apart.

For an instrumental band turning out rhythmic chill out music, presentation in a venue like the Electric Factory is everything. Projections on the stage wide canvas were carefully crafted to evoke themes in tracks from their three major releases Dive, Awake, and Epoch. The chilled-out vibe on their studio recordings is fully reinforced with some serious rhythmic fashion which breathes extra life into the live experience. Perhaps the one thing that their live show reveals is that group’s records truly do not reflect the artistry and technical skill that is put into each track. It’s when you see them perform everything live that you can truly appreciate the musical feats that they are achieving.

Aside from a brief technical issue midway through the set (and a rare speaking appearance for Hansen) I didn’t notice the time pass as one ambient song floated into the other. But when the familiar chiming sounds of “Montana” came through the sound system, it was certain that the night’s journey was drawing to a close. Whether it be simple shapes and colors, or a full live-action narrative being played out onscreen behind the group, it can only make one wonder what Tycho is trying to convey in juncture with their music.

It’s certainly something that should lead any human being to wonder, and perhaps the only correct response is to simply take it all in and discover it for yourself.

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