Tycho: Dive (Ghostly)
Tycho’s refined IDM aesthetic crosses over into more mainstream waters with this nice slab of electronic dream-pop. Previously I usually associated Tycho’s name with the crunchy beats and warm pads of prime post-Autechre IDM, but Dive contains a few sweet surprises. “Hours” is quite different and upbeat, with a nice four-to-the-floor backbeat and propulsive bassline. It sounds sort of like Boards of Canada hit the discotheque, with a sweet melody over its washed out pads. He continues exploring more uptempo backbeats elsewhere on the album, lending it more of an affinity to the dizzy pop of Ulrich Schnauss or M83. But his ubiquitous woozy synth leads consistently bring Boards of Canada to mind, even though his sound has veered quite far otherwise from their more otherworldly personality. The biggest splash (no pun intended) is in the title track. “Dive” is over 8 minutes of upbeat bliss, leading with a startling female vocal, bright and human but so reverberated that it’s abstracted from any other real meaning. But just that human element is enough to pull us under, carried along by a propulsive, simple backbeat and staccato guitar melodies. The second half of the album proves to be a bit drowsier, falling closer to his past repertoire. “Adrift” could have been plucked out of any number of downtempo IDM albums from the post-2000 set that included Hermann & Kleine, Arovane and Boards of Canada. That might sound like a dismissal, but I happen to love that music, so that is harkens back to those not-so-distant glory days is not a bad thing to me. Closing track “Elegy” is a beauty, with a persistent muted bass kick and delicate guitar work that dominates. Never does the melodic angle fall short, and despite Tycho often drawing inspiration from sounds that may seem familiar, his knack as a producer and performer and ability to craft beautiful melodies all transcend genre pigeonholing.