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Tycho, Printworks, London

  • Published in Live


Fun fact, on Thursday I learned that you don't have to be asleep to be part of a nightmare. In a word my experience leading up to and at the actual Tycho gig was awful. Keep reading if you’d like to learn why or stop reading and go listen to something good and have a snack. I personally recommend a lightly salted and buttered popcorn accompanied by last year’s release and collab by Karen O and Danger Mouse titled Lux Prima

The night began hydroplaning towards the Printworks to catch Poolside and Tycho over a terrain that could give the moon’s cratered surface a run for its money. London’s glassed streets resembling more a lens with petroleum jelly smeared over it rather than a driving surface, compounded its dangers as the night and fog filled my visor. Sound dicey? Child’s play compared to being nearly run off the road, twice, by the same driving school car. The worst was yet to come though.

I'd heard of both Poolside and Tycho but neither name held my attention long enough to give them each a proper listen. Recently however I was at Death's door (see White Flower article, and live!) and combing through my inbox. I decided to follow a link from a promoter and listen to Tycho's new album, Simulcast, which made an impression so I sought out catching them live. Upon arrival at the Printworks I'm told I can't park in the car park because that's not what it's used for. I'm then sent to media accreditation where I'm delayed for 20 minutes because they can't find my accreditation and can't use a radio properly to call for assistance. I'm then sent to the guestlist desk where they find my name and send me weaving through four lanes of metal barriers, through a metal detector and finally a pat-down/bag inspection. Hurdles cleared (or so I thought) I shed my wet riding gear, pack it into my bag and head to stage level.

I'm stopped just before mounting the stairs. 'You can't go up there, that bag is too big'. 'Fine' I say, it's a compression bag which I squeeze with mighty hands to the size of a deflated basketball, 'small enough for ya?' I ask. The guard nods but points to our helmets now. Although the Printworks don’t have a helmet policy, or a locker that will fit them, I’m told they must go in. For a fiver. With no liability on their behalf if anything happens to them. For those of you that don’t know a helmet is a life saving device, I argue, and if it’s dropped or hit it’s effectively useless. I'm not comfortable with negotiating it into an ill-fitting receptacle. The guard stands firm saying, I kid you not, I could rob the entire venue if I have this on my person. Furthermore, he asks, 'what if you had a store, would you let someone in holding that thing?!' 'Would I let someone not wearing a helmet into my store after passing through a metal detector and getting thoroughly frisked and searched?' I ask, 'yes'. Security: 'now I know you're lying'. Immune to reason or logic we spend another 15 minutes arguing in circles until I'm brought to management which gladly take the helmet into a locked office I can see, 'my Dad had a helmet and dropped it, he had to buy a new one, I totally get where you're coming from' says probably the first reasonable human being I’ve met at the Printworks that night. It might be worth noting that I’ve never had this issue at any other London venue. Get your shit together Printworks.

With two songs left in their set I catch Poolside. I don't mind because their performance was lacklustre and reeked of an identity crisis. Was it a tween movie soundtrack manifesting itself before me in human form? Was it elevator music? The last song, a new one, was a schizophrenic combination of a '90s zoot suit meets ska train wreck. They went off stage without an encore to the merciful relief of the crowd.

If you hate listening to music, Tycho is the band for you. Harsh, maybe? Unintentionally so however, which is more than I can say for their performance. Tycho is perfect for music’s underachievers; if you don’t like sifting through records with your fingertips lost in the sounds and smells of LPs and 45s you’ve found your musical match! Getting lost down the digital rabbit hole of music’s streaming algorithm not for you? Problem over, Tycho to the rescue. Hearing a tune and popping open Sound Hound to find out more about a song that’s made an impression on you or just even taking a friend’s music suggestion too much hassle? Forget listening to music, Tycho’s on deck and they’re the group for you! You don’t have to get anything and there’s no overthinking it either. It’s just there, like a toilet brush, useful probably but you’re unsure of how it got there or even came to be. Scott Hansen, by night known as Tycho, is a polished and tanned middle aged time traveling Ken doll standing in front of a band, giant projections of landscapes and behind a crescent of six keyboards producing musical sounds. He’s from the future where society’s risen above spontaneity, improvisation and creative music as a whole because they’ve already unlocked the Universe's mysteries. Spoiler alert we blow up. Are they good? Are they bad? I don't know, but I do know is they're just there standing in front of me moving like some sort of animatronic Pirates of the Caribbean or something. Who’d waste 30 quid on such a thing you might be asking yourselves? Good question: let me tell you.

I’m trapped in a sea of fans which are either grunting through burbbling throats that bubble and gurgle up guttural, "tycho, Tycho, TYCHO!" while clenched teeth and tongues twist unnaturally inside their mouths. The scene is more tourettes than cheers of enthusiasm. The sporadic and unpredictable echoes of "Tycho" shouted by fanatics come across as a demented by product of listening to the music instead of enjoying it, an illness like a side effect or nervous tick; a compulsion. I’m at the front and outside of the women, swaying with eyes closed as they’re relentlessly groped and sucked upon by their partners to these horrid beats, everyone is a minimum of 5’11 and taller. The dudes as you’d imagine are the type taking blurred out selfies and are ‘experiencing’ the gig via their phone screens. Nice one, music bro(s).

By song three I was ready to leave but by song six when Hannah Cottrell, aka Saint Sinner came onto the stage blasting us with peace signs, juvenile lyrics and her trout neck tattoo I was ready to PEACE-OUT, and so I did. No small feat mind you, the fanatics would not let me pass, to exit I had to shove, contort and yell at followers just to leave; you'd’ve had an easier time leaving the Church of Scientology. Unfortunately, I could not depart without reprieve, by the exit I got skull fucked one last time. A pair of erotic sentries were facing each other in frozen embrace with at least half a metre between them. Their eyes were closed, mouths open and tongues extended and touching all while remaining completely still. I was as frozen with horror as I was intrigue. Pretty much the grossest thing I’d seen all week, next to Tycho’s performance. I stormed out thinking about just how awkward AF and unsettling an experience I’d had all the way through. Have you ever seen parents kissing their kids on the mouth? Yeah, like that.     

I picked up my helmet but not before being accosted by the merch table dude, "Hey mate, you look cold, why not buy a hoody?" I looked at him puzzled, "I’ve walked out halfway through the gig because I couldn’t stand being there any longer and you think I want to commemorate this experience by buy a hoody as a lasting memory?" Perplexed he broke eye contact and I broke outta there.

Leaving was the best part of the experience. It had stopped raining, no crowd and no more Tycho. Don’t get me wrong, put it on in the background, it’s equal to white noise and equally as unobtrusive. The music holds the same weight as a dream and longevity of memory. It’s a corporate gig with generic applications that’re as safe as they are inoffensive, unimaginative and mechanical. This is why we don’t let robots make music, just saying. Can’t say the same about the audience. Fortunately, for you, it was the last show of the tour, so no need to look up dates or ignore my advice and put yourself through a gruelling experience, Musos' got you.


The Weekly Froth - 20160708

  • Published in Columns


The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

Track of the Week: ‘Augustine’ by Blood Orange

Blood Orange is back, and we can rejoice. I’ve become a convert ever since seeing him doing an amazing live show at Primavera Sound a while back, and can’t wait to repeat a visit whenever he’s gonna be close by. This track starts slow and like a ballad, but then the quick turn around, the beat and bass combo providing the funk, which then gets the extra flavour from his guitarmanship. Then, after about 1 1/2 minute, the piano and the vocals coming in, first doing the talking, and then, when the chorus comes in, showing off the pretty, higher pitched vocals. Almost choir like here, interspersed with deeper talking. At one point we just get some (ace) vocals, and then the drumpad charges back in to provide us with some rhythm. A real ace track, can’t wait to listen to the entire album.

‘Life is Good’ by Get Down Edits

Get Down Edits start of with the disco sounds, but soon the heavy bass comes in to make it work and to get the whole thing really going on. Then the piano comes in, the little riff, bringing you way back down into that New York scene right there. The heavy bass keeps it modern though, even when the vocals come in for the first time, first doing a Hmmm-hmmm-hm to get acquainted, though slowly but surely they really start coming in with the help of some male vocals there in the background. They make sure you understand that, you know, it’s a Good life, and that Love is shining. And even moreso when you get the jiggy on with this one (As she is doing what you want her to do). At about the four minute mark they dial it down, giving the vocals all the time and all the space to get you on board, and I love that they first bring in the percussion on top of the deeper vocals singing Good life, then the piano, all before they really bring it all back in again. Some tuneage for the dancefloor, bringing the diva vocals, the disco sounds, but also deep bass sound to make sure no one has to miss a beat.


‘Oh Honey’ by Delegation (Poolside edit)

This one starts slow and sultry, bringing the warm tones first. Then, just before the minute mark, the slow bass comes in as the synthesizer and horns give you the exotic, really getting that cocktail and Poolside (…) vibe going. Then, the vocals, singing that They know where to go, as she is their Inspiration. It’s got those amazing, old school soul group vocals, those four boys doing that one mic thing. In the mean time the bass keeps the slow-to-mid paced rhythm burning, with the higher key sides giving the holiday vibes. Then, the solo male vocals, making it work for a minute, before bringing it back down with the bass and the group coming in, doing their Ooooooohhhh, honey to great effect. It is a lovely slow burner, ideal for some beach side consumption I reckon.


‘Flee’ by Crayon feat. Ann Shirley

You get the irregular beat going, doing that R&B thing over the Ann Shirley vocals, which coincidentally are also doing that R&B thing. So that vibe is set from the get go, for getting up close and dirty around midnight. I love her voice, singing You’re so cold when we are apart, giving it a fitting turn for this kind of track. In the mean time Crayon knows when to dial it down and dial it up, putting in a nice deeper bass sound as well to contrast the harsher ones. It is a nice, three minute piece where Crayon rightfully called in the Ann Shirley help, giving it that little something something that is a good fit for the track.


‘Way Back Home’ by Kraak & Smaak feat. Ivar (Tiger & Woods remix)

I love the percussion that comes in at about the ten minute mark, giving it this nice vibe as it contrasts with the more mechanical sounds in the back. Then, more rhythm sounds come in, with at the minute mark the bass barging forward full throttle when it enters the scene. They build it up nicely, always seeming to add one more thing to keep that forward momentum going as they loop the mainstay for a while (like Tiger & Woods always do so masterfully). At the two minute mark the track opens up a bit when the piano sounds come in, taking it away from the more club heavy feel of the rest of the instruments, and the lads make sure that this sound, too, gets some of the rhythm right. At the three minute mark, for the first time, the vocals, nice and soulful, singing that he hopes You understand. And those vocals won’t let up from that point on, even if it sometimes slides back a bit in favor of some of the other instruments. It’s got a real festive tone this one, a track I see doing well in festival sets because it mixes the more club elements with some of the more open, poppy sounds without replacing the former.


‘Satin Kimono’ by The Beat Broker

The Beat Broker gets a nice, funky loop going, also courtesy of that guitar sound, adding some disco sounds and the soul vocals even before the clock strikes a minute. In the mean time, in the background, the rhythm keeps rolling on, with some of those drums, a slow bass sound, all culminating in a good canvas for the vocals and that guitar to keep running on. At the two minute mark he dials it down a bit in the loop, letting the vocals do some of the work, but soon the bass comes back in to make sure the rhythm and the funk don’t get completely lost. Against the canvas The Beat Broker starts working some more sounds now, making sure to add some variety as, as far as looping goes, you do have some of that necessary repetition going on, obviously. Next to these new touches, the ongoing vocals (that aren’t repeated in that same vein) make sure you’re never going to find a dull moment. At the 4:20 mark some of that funky business in the solo instrument right there, perhaps providing a perfect summation of what this track is all about.


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