After releasing the album Dive in 2011, Tycho (at that time consisting only of Scott Hansen) assembled a drummer and a guitarist/bassist to flesh out his music, and went on to record Tycho's first album as a trio. Stream Awake above, via Spotify.
Almost 15 minutes shorter than Dive, Awake is a more focused and energetic effort, with drummer Rory O'Connor in particular providing a boost to the music's sense of urgency. He shines brightest on "Apogee," with intricate drum patterns complicating Tycho's blissfully placid sound. Though still retaining characteristics of ambient electronica, Awake takes on much more of a post-rock feel than its predecessor. The album's instrumental jams may still be better suited as background music for nature walks, road trips or (in this writer's case) writing things, but they are more immediate and attention-grabbing than any of Tycho's previous one-man compositions. Dive was an immersive album that took a few listens to fully sink in, and initially Awake seems like it will follow in suite, until its second half begins relying on much less mellow, patient fare.
Zac Brown's guitar playing meshes extraordinarily well with Hansen's vast array of synthesizers, often recalling some of the Edge's more atmospheric riffs, and almost always serving to emphasize other aspects of Tycho's music. For Awake, Hansen seems to have picked two of the classiest, most subtly thrilling musicians he could find, and their nuanced playing gives the album a many-layered feel.