- San Franciscan Scott Hansen's probably as well known for his graphic designwork as ISO50 as he is for the sub-aquatic drifts he creates as Tycho. As such, it's no surprise that the cover art for his debut for Ghostly International and second album overall, Dive, serves as the perfect visual summation of the music contained therein: sun-blanched, caked in reverb and semi-hallucinatory fuzz, and kind of wavy at the point where visual lines intersect. Preceded by one of the summer's best quiet-bedroom anthems, "Hours," Dive arrives seven years after Tycho's debut, Sunrise Projector, as part of Ghostly's ever expanding audio universe; it's the Ann Arbor label's first entry into the kind of Day-Glo Balearic electronica we've come to expect from outposts like Internasjonal, Planet Mu or even Border Community.
As one might imagine from "Hours," Dive serves as a late summer/early autumn album kind of misplaced in the oncoming gloom. Which is not to downplay its charms; it's just an odd time to relay these blinding beams. As Hansen's stated in interviews about the work though, nostalgia is a driving creative spark behind his work, and few seasons are as bound to fond looks backward and negotiations of the past than late autumn. Though for the most part these are warm and slowly propulsive works created around pulsing synthesizers, plaintive guitar and sparkling drum machine push, there's an undeniable melancholy beneath Hansen's creations.
Opener "A Walk," for example, seems to drift without desire or need, its opening synth melody slowly tugged into shape by its hip-hop strut, while with faint guitar and first-morning synth peals, the aptly-titled "Daydream" plays like the nagging audio approximation of a scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Restless Mind. The title track, meanwhile, sounds like an updated St. Etienne track with the vocals rubbed out and the BPM increased, while "Coastal Brake" is a little dizzier and top spun, its central melody gaining speed in a rush of first-love sentimentality. Entwined acoustic guitars and ringing synthesizer mark the late recline of "Melanine," a point of breath and withdrawal even within an album of such cushioning.
If indeed there's nothing on Dive quite as immediately transfixing as "Hours," it rewards patience; its soft focus remove repays repeat listens, not "ambient" per se but atmospheric, alternating moments of presence with necessary spaceouts. The album closes in a trio of faint dream-soundtracks—all star-blind textures and narcotized buzz—whose titles say more than I should: "Adrift," "Epigram" and "Elegy." And that's perhaps the sequence where you begin to realize just how cagey Tycho and Ghostly have been in with the album's mid-November release. Despite its burnt album art and sandy surfaces, it's an album not of barbecues but of bottles of wine and quiet fires. The introspection of a room sealed against winter's bluster.
01. A Walk
05. Coastal Brake