I’ve been thinking a lot about what art means recently. It’s not getting funded, and with that comes questions of what it is worth in a tangible and measurable way. What keeps coming back to me is its role in building our narrative, where it places us in our historic context and how it positions us for the future. Epoch, true to its title, is right now. Tycho’s album, announced just one day before its release, allows the moment to consume – it is expansive and visceral with acknowledgement of the power in the present.
Even Epoch’s release has been focused on the momentary. It came confidently, unperturbed by the mountain of other big-name albums dropped on Friday, brazenly unannounced and unexpected, save for two singles released earlier this year. It wasn’t. Now it is.
Scott Hansen said of the record, “I’ve never been fond of handing in an album then waiting 4 months for it to be released. I wanted to be more connected to the people consuming the music.”
This investment in wide and deep connection sees him remove himself from the defined, so as to harness something more universal. The cover art was designed by Hansen himself, a graphic designer as well as a producer, and depicts a stark and removed sun, no longer specific to a place or time of day like in the trilogy’s other two albums, Dive and Awake. It speaks only to the present it occupies.
The contained album builds the perfect canvas on which to project a moment. The songs within it are visceral, determined and mature. They work best as a cohesive body, shifting only with the perfect precision Tycho has brought to all his music.
Opener, Glider, introduces this shift well. Beginning in a sparse and winding fashion, its ambience quickly slips away to make room for a more propelled journey through the soundscape, gathering momentum and shifting pressures as if reaching through the speakers into the physical realm. Allowing itself to take over the body’s responses; hastening breath, slowing heart rate, demanding to be perceived, the rest of the album delivers consistently.
Stand out tracks include Receiver which serves the purpose of the introspective scene in a film, slow and refracted but building to a deep and epiphanic release. This song showcases the entanglement Tycho creates between melodic and narrative structure, cementing Tycho’s position as the ultimate cross-disciplinarian, testing the boundaries of each art form, blurring the lines and enhancing through these shades of grey.
Another stand out follows seamlessly. The title track throws off any heaviness created in Receiver, and builds relentlessly to a dynamic and celebratory track; electric, euphoric and crammed.
Noteworthy Source is slow and full of space, with imperceptible stem builds leading to a release from what you can’t quite believe is the same song. Tycho seemingly uses it to show off about his ability to create breathability within depth.
Album closer Field has an acoustic element, which should feel weird, but is not out of place. The track is a testament to Hansen’s growth, harnessing the power of a band without compromising the clean precision of his own production. It throws back to the hidden melodies of Dive and Awake, acknowledging their place in the building of this moment.
The ability to create harmony in ideas so inherently chaotic has always been Tycho’s marker, and this album has him expanding all those chaotic forms in an incredible and exciting way.
Truth told, I don’t know how this one will make me feel in a year. It’s one to write memories on. Keep it precious.
Tycho will be performing at Laneway Festival 2017:
Saturday 21 January: The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore
Thursday 26 January: Brisbane Showgrounds, Bowen Hills, Brisbane (16+)
Saturday 28 January: Footscray Community Arts Centre and the River’s Edge, Melbourne
Monday 30 January: Albert Park Precinct, Auckland
Friday 3 February: Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide, Adelaide (16+)
Saturday 4 February: Sydney College of the Arts, Rozelle, Sydney
Sunday 5 February: Esplanade Reserve and West End, Fremantle
Words by Samantha Groth