Throughout the 2010s Tycho have been slowly but surely establishing themselves at the forefront of the contemporary ambient scene, with lush sound design and structures that strike the balance of being minimal and engaging. This newest album is their first under new label Mom+Pop, and disrupts the winning formula with multiple vocal appearances from Saint Sinner.
This decision has somewhat mixed results: Skate represents an interesting new development for Tycho, stripping back to just guitar and Saint Sinner’s breathy yet pleasing lyrics (“Yeah we could skate all day and all night long / oh we’re flying now, not gonna let you down”) while Pink & Blue grooves along nicely with its catchy hook and expansive sound palette.
But at times it becomes apparent that the vocals are pushing Tycho’s productions into a poppy verse-chorus structure that doesn’t suit them, and it leads to tracks like the downtempo For How Long feeling underdeveloped.
Three of the tracks are instrumental, each of them delicious bites of ear-candy. Into The Woods features a dinky melody reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s ambient classic Ageispolis and gentle guitar chords to back it up. Opening track Easy pits a shuffling breakbeat against an impossibly delicate-sounding synth pad, and the title track piles the atmospheric layers high over a chugging guitar line. Elsewhere, No Stress is adorned with bouncy bass that ducks and weaves around the pulse of the kickdrums.
The earthy textures that come from mixing analogue (or at least analogue-esque) synths and guitars are intoxicating, perfectly splitting the difference between easy listening electronic and contemplative post-rock, and Weather contains plenty of this.
It is when the album starts to sound like a Saint Sinner record produced by Tycho that the problems arise, but it remains worth a listen for those who appreciate immaculate soundscapes.