Dive is the kind of album for people who enjoy thinking and dancing at the same time (though in no particular order). It builds a bridge between the introspection of ethereal music with driving IDM influence. In short, it’s the soundtrack to an awesome day. Sure, it’s been done before, but not in a very long time. This album fits under the term “ambient music” in the way Brian Eno first described it, stating that it can be “actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener.” Given Eno’s output, he probably didn’t mean this style, but it’s certainly the case here.
The third track, “Daydream,” is what I expected to hear from him. He surrounds an uplifting acoustic guitar melody with beats à la Boards of Canada and dense lo-filter synths. It switches between a slow head bob to a pogo seamlessly. It’s cool, but bland if you’ve listened to him before. However, following “Daydream” with a track like “Dive” is exactly what Tycho needs to do to show his versatility. While “Daydream” pushes you inward, “Dive” does the opposite. I was waiting to hear Dave Macklovitch of Chromeo be featured on vocals the whole time. While maintaining that upbeat vibe, they instead go with reverb-drenched female vocals, singing free form ooh’s and ahh’s.
Tracks like “Ascension” and “Coastal Brake” sees him focusing more on atmosphere than the beat, making a claustrophobic wall of noise – and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s oppressive, but it’s weighing you down in airy soft synths, whose drones broken up in time, compressed in sync with the beat. On the other hand, tracks like “Melanine” and the closer, “Elegy,” take more cues from guitar-oriented post rock than from anything else. “Adrift” shifts the focus from atmosphere to percussion, really picking up the hip-hop side of his previous work that has been mostly toned down on this album. If anything, I appreciate it more in contrast to the rest of the album than if it was on each track.
This is chillwave (ah, yes, the dreaded subgenre) without that 80’s vibe that always turns me off from acts thrown under the umbrella (or the bus, depending on how you look at it). It’s chillwave (as I vomit for the second time) for fans of Dilla or Explosions in the Sky (and for the marginal portion of the population that enjoys both at the same time). As opposed to his previous output where he just made pretty sounds, here Tycho shows he can make an album multidimensional in terms of sound as much as it is emotionally cohesive.
Dive is out now on Ghostly International.
-Drew Bandos (DJ – Coast Off; Sit Back and Dream)