All words + photos: Daniela Toleva
Nostalgia. The feeling that sets in as the rolling, ambient melodies mix in with images of sea, surfers, waves and the sun, of course.
Tycho’s music has been described as anything from swirling melodies to sonic landscapes. Much has been written about his highly anticipated 2011 release Dive, arriving seven years after his Sunrise Projector debut and his first record on Ghostly International. Tycho’s live show takes that chilled out, Balearic sound, and borrowing heavy from his graphic design work, transforms it into an experience.
Although he performs with a band on stage, Tycho is a one-man project by San Francisco artist and graphic designer Scott Hansen. Hansen’s graphic design work is reminiscent of yesteryears, with sun-washed coastal landscapes, whimsical silhouettes, and the sun prominently featured as the perfect circle. In Tycho’s live show, such images serve as the music backdrop, taking audiences back in time to an idyllic place. Friday’s show created a rather dreamy vibe at the Black Cat, which made for a quiet and thoughtful crowd. Joined by a drummer and guitarist on stage, Hansen played most of the tracks on Dive, eliciting a response from the crowd as more popular tracks like “Hours” and “Dive” came on. The magical “Daydream” saw more than a few iPhone video recordings, attempting to pocket the moment for a later time. Although the show was synth heavy, Hansen switched between a guitar and a keyboard a few times. Coming back for an encore, he played new material full of heavier, deeper synths against a darker visual background, once again eliciting an approving response.
This was my first time seeing Tycho live, and only his second time playing in DC. Having missed him in February, I was curious about his live show. Ambient electronica at the Black Cat on a Friday night hardly makes for a transformative experience. It does make for an hour long journey to a place where the sun and beach meet and all you hear is the continuous soundtrack of the landscape. And when he plays “Dive”, you feel the ocean waves are crashing into you. Summer is back. Nostalgia.