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CD review: Tycho’s ‘Awake’

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Four stars

Tycho Awake

Las Vegas has not had the pleasure of a Tycho performance, but its fourth full-length, Awake, is its closest approximation. The San Francisco-based ambient/post-rock act is largely multi-instrumentalist Scott Hansen, but after a long, profile-raising tour promoting 2011’s well-received Dive, he invited stage-mates Zac Brown (bass/guitar) and Rory O’Connor (drums) to join him in the studio. The result is the most fleshed-out and emotive of the band’s 12-year career, its melodies, tempos and ambience as meticulously layered as a $30 cocktail.

“Montana” merges ascendant, Explosions in the Sky-like chord progressions with beachy breakbeats and synth currents that evoke a Pacific Coast Highway drive. If that implied cruise control defines most of Awake, the highwayman disco of “Spectre”—stacked with massaging guitar lines and keyboard arpeggios—floors it to the album’s climax. Awake may defer to pattern, but it’s so mesmeric—its craft, harmony and ardor perfectly rendered—that it’s hardly a transgression. The real crime would be never experiencing it live.

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