An Ambient Homecoming

San Francisco producer Tycho's wordless tracks combine calm and exhilaration.

With mesmerizingly chill instrumental tracks released in the middle of the night, an album debuted live during a Burning Man DJ set, and a surprise unveiling of the project, Epoch, less than 72 hours later, San Francisco’s Tycho is throwing the industry for a loop.

“I don’t want it to be this scheduled, thought-out thing,” Scott Hansen, the mastermind behind Tycho’s productions, says during a recent tour stop in Raleigh, N.C. “I’m really sick of that way of putting out records. Now, it feels like people are going to hear it instead of finishing the work, and then some management team sits on it and figures out what to do.”

Released on Friday, Sept. 30, Epoch, which is Hansen’s fourth full-length album, was recorded over the course of a year in a studio he built in a North Berkeley attic. Less than a week before Tycho’s current tour kicked off at Red Rocks in Colorado, the record was finally completed.

“There’s not one song on there that’s more than a year old,” Hansen says. “That’s what’s so awesome about this record.”

The result is a gorgeous collection of wordless ambient and electronic tracks that feature everything fans have come to love and expect from Tycho. Building off of 2014’s Awake, which was recorded with a live three-piece band, Epoch is brimming with warm synths, intricate guitar lines, and galloping drums.

It’s a “head-down, just-tweaking-on-sounds-all-night kind of record for me,” says Hansen, who also moonlights as a graphic designer. “The result of that is you definitely put a little more of yourself into it, and it’s a lot more personal. The isolation of that space in Berkeley and the story of the last five or six years all culminated with whatever ended up being on that record.”

Because Hansen has a habit of posting videos of his recording processes to social media, it’s no surprise that he took the time to list all the gear and technology used in Epoch on Facebook.

“I like opening up the process,” he explains. “There’s a few people who showed me a lot when I was young, and those people were so generous. I think a lot of people are afraid of showing their secrets or whatever, but if you share the process, people will take it and make it their own.”

After almost a year of recording and playing DJ sets around the world, Hansen sees his return to the Bay Area for Treasure Island Music Festival as a homecoming of sorts.

“It’ll be nice to finally play some of the new stuff in front of a hometown audience,” he says.

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