Tycho at Estragon (Bologna, Italy)

Support: Maiole
October 27, 2017 at Estragon (Bologna, Italy)
Promoter: DNA Concerti

Among the electronic acts capable of reaching international success while retaining an interesting and evolving sound, there certainly is Tycho: the project (led by Scott Hansen) announced a couple months ago a new tour to promote Epoch, released in 2016 by Ghostly International. Knowing their body of work, I was certain it was a set I couldn’t miss; even though I went to their show in Bologna (Italy) with great enthusiasm, the live performance was even better than I expected.

The opening act, the Italian Maiole, got the audience in the right mood, preparing us to enjoy ourselves in the best way possible: thanks to an electronic set danceable and prepared with attention to details, even though most of the crowd didn’t really know his work, the producer slowly transported us into his world, made up of both rhythmic and melodic sections – sometimes based on samples, sometimes on synths, the main instruments in the hands of the musician. Unfortunately, keeping the audience’s attention wasn’t easy, and Maiole only did it for short periods: some transitions in the overall fluid set were too sudden, the succession of build-ups and explosions soon became a bit predictable and, even when they worked thanks to good melodies and chord progressions, the moments dedicated to the explosions were a bit too constrained – a sensation further amplified by the stillness of the lighting design. Anyway, Maiole’s task wasn’t easy at all and despite these minor problems he was still able to captivate the crowd, overall achieving a good result and competently preparing the entrance of the main artist.

After a short wait, three of the four members of Tycho’s live line-up were welcomed by a loud applause from the audience: sadly, Zac Brown, the fourth member, couldn’t be on some of the live dates, due to a family emergency, as reported on the official Facebook page at the start of the tour. The lack of a musician usually is not an easy problem to solve, but the band knew how to deal with the situation. Thanks to a great professionalism and an undeniable synergy, everything went perfectly fine, with a set which consisted of material selected from almost every published record: the greatest surprises were certainly the inclusion of ‘Dictaphone’s Lament’ – one of the songs of the first record, released in 2004 – and the brief moment Scott Hansen, the mind behind the whole project, took all for himself while the other members went off stage – a particularly interesting moment because it also coincided with the projection of new visuals.

Despite these sort of time leaps and the overall variability of the set, the coherence and cohesion of the live set was perfect, as was the execution: the foundations of the entire musical creation were certainly the drums, played by Rory O’Connor with an impressive mix of technical precision, never-ending fantasy and great musical taste. On top of it, Scott Hansen and Billy Kim overlapped layers of bass, guitars and synths, while everything was wrapped up in just the right amount of reverb, which contributed to creating an oneiric vibe, transforming the set in something like a dream-pop concert fused with 2010 aesthetics.

During the entire live set, the visuals projected behind the musicians were the key to reach full involvement: every second of the videos was meticulously crafted to be synchronized with the music, enriching the overall experience. The material used for the visuals’ creation came from different sources, including great films such as Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky (which costituted the foundations of the ‘Glider’ video), 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick, and Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni. The scenes were slowed down, transformed and overlapped with simple geometric shapes, and they were interchanged with landscapes of colours and panoramic views of nature and human creations. The fluidity and the continuous evolution of the music was mirrored in the ever-changing images, and vice versa, creating a unique experience for the audience.

Beyond a doubt, the concert reached a climax in its last few minutes: after closing the set with ‘Awake’ and ‘Epoch’, the title tracks of the last two records and both much loved by the crowd, the musicians came back on stage for an encore, which was ‘Division’. In its live version, the band enhanced even more the almost post-rock atmosphere of the song, with explosions of great emotional impact, confirming both the prowess of the line-up and the different influences used to forge the project’s distinctive sound.

To sum up, to see Tycho live is not just a way to witness a perfectly programmed and performed set: it is also an occasion to give new meaning to the songs, and experience the perfect immersive atmosphere in which to fully understand and enjoy them.

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