Tycho - Epoch
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Tycho's fourth studio album, Epoch, was given a surprise digital release at the end of September 2016, about a month after it was finished. With this album, Tycho mastermind Scott Hansen completed a trilogy of albums beginning with 2011's Dive and continuing with 2014's Awake. Since its beginning in the early 2000s, the project evolved from an obscure IDM solo venture to the most well-known instrumental electronic rock band of its time, selling out several headlining tours and having its music extensively featured on television (particularly Cartoon Network's Adult Swim). Epoch extended this success, as it garnered Tycho its first Grammy nomination, for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2017 awards. The album wastes no time diving into the types of warm, nostalgic melodies Tycho fans are used to, marked by U2-esque ringing guitars and lush, rippling synthesizers. However, this album generally feels much more urgent and punchy than past Tycho efforts. On several tracks, the rhythms are more complex than anything they've attempted before, verging on math rock on songs like "Slack." On tracks such as "Division" and "Rings," the beats are fast and choppy enough to verge on drum'n'bass, yet overall the music registers much differently due to the swirling guitars and cascading synths. "Horizon" and "Epoch" are 4/4 dance tracks, showcasing Tycho at its sunniest and most upbeat, but songs like "Receiver" are slower and sadder, reaching back to the project's early, Boards of Canada-indebted days. Hansen has described Epoch as his darkest album to date, but his idea of dark is still pretty light by most standards. As such, the album never feels grim, even if there are moments when clouds obstruct the sun. While Epoch is easily the band's most diverse release to date in terms of moods and tempos, it's still recognizable as a Tycho release at any point during its duration. Hansen continues to push his group's sound while remaining familiar, and Epoch is one of Tycho's best yet.