Tycho – Awake

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Under his Tycho moniker, the San Fransisco based Scott Hansen creates instrumental soundscapes made up of brooding settings and nostalgia inflicted synthesizers. Also known as a graphic artist and founder of ISO50 – a minimalistic design blog, Hansens music tell the same tale as the imaginary on his blog; namely a sense of scaled down architectural minimalism merged with hazy Californian romanticism. His wonderful 2011 album Drive, sounded a lot like an instrumental version of Washed Out and Neon Indian, but possibly even closer to the roots of that particular sound. That is, a sound at core akin to the electronic based music of the late 70’s, early 80’s, layered with the same mindset as the mid 90’s ambient music of Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. While Hansen’s sound isn’t in any way original, his delicate textures are simply more carefully put together than many of his bedroom-oriented peers.

On “Awake”, his first composition in over two years, there’s a sense of more purposely layered guitars that energies the track forward, and the result is his most organic sounding creation to date. Compared to Drive, “Awake” sound substantially less romantic, more fully formed as an instrumental pop song, to the point that you almost wish for vocals to appear.

Hansen is currently working on his fourth album, out sometime next year. In the meantime, “Awake” is available digitally via Ghostly International.

Neon Indian – Change Of Coast

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Neon Indian was considered as one of the forerunners of the chillwave movement with the release of the charming debut Psychic Chasm, a record that sounded a lot more odd than those from his fellow genre pioneers Toro Y Moi and Washed Out. In reality, he shared the same level of playfulness and quirkiness as Ariel Pink, an artist he also admitted being inspired of. By comparison, his excellent 2011 follow-up Era Extraña was a lot more structured and streamlined; displaying solid song-crafting that turned its head towards vaguely recalled neon-lit 80’s soundtracks. The title track of that record is still one of the most beautiful 80’s nostalgic trips I’ve ever come across, and now that two years have passed since the album’s release, it’s fair to say that it’s my favorite from any given artist that came out of the chillwave movement.

While I unfortunately can’t say that Neon Indian’s latest release is a first taste of a new album, it’s fitting that he eventually would end up on a soundtrack – in this case GTA V. Playful as ever, “Change Of Coast” would’ve been fit to score any late night Sony Crockett Ferrari drive, so it’s not hard to see why it suites the sentiment of GTA perfectly. It’s lot less somber as Era Extraña, while containing the same amount of playfulness (even a bit of irony one might hope) that one would expect. So go ahead beat up some poor sucker, steal his Ferrari and change the channel to Neon Indian.

Washed Out – It All Feels Right

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“It All Feels Right” is in a way the spot-on follow-up to Ernest Green a.k.a Washed Out’s critically acclaimed debut album. Green takes the blueprint of his seminal “Feel it All Around”, a track that encapsulated an entire sub-genre of narcotic flashes and tape warped romanticism with 80’s nostalgia, and fuses it with light touches of psychedelia, resonating Yoshimi-era The Flaming Lips . Yet, “It All Feels Right” is not a sea change as much as a full-fledged perfection of the woozy harmonies that Washed Out once pioneered along with fellow chillwave cronies Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi.

Compared to Within and Without, Green’s vocals are less mumbly and the texture of “It All Feels Right” feels more airy and organic. Musically, it’s a more mature approach, but just as Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi went on to find a sustainable purpose for their craft, Green shows that there is a way forward for his decadent compositions even after the light of the initial buzz has flickered out.

Paracosm, Washed Out’s sophomore album is out on August 13th via Sub Pop records.

Wild Swim – Another Night

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We often write about the importance of being original or creative, but preferably not at the expense of quality and certainly not at the expense of melody. But what we desire is when these two elements come together to create something immediately gripping. This is most definitely the case with Wild Swim’s latest offering.

Now, originality can take shape in many ways. If we would be so rude and start to dismember “Another Night”, we would find a whole bunch of recognizable components. The bass line is more or less a replica of The xx’s “Intro”, the synthesizers could easily been lifted off Neon Indian’s Era Extraña, while frontman Richard Sansom’s vocals could be describes as a mixture of Wild Beasts and AWOLNATION. Nevertheless when all is in place, “Another Night” is an inspired and fresh experience, constantly morphing and shifting its way to new jarring heights. From the subtle intro the song builds on an unpredictable allure, steadily climbing towards its climax of harmonious guitars and a full-fledged soundscape. Yet “Another Night” is instantaneously accessible, centered around Samson’s melodious vocals until it erupts into the repetitive mantra: “We set sail for a place that I thought I known / But I didn’t know”.

This is the Oxford five-piece’s second release, preceded by the art-rock aesthetics of last year’s Echo’s EP. With “Another Night” they’ve taken a huge leap forward, expanding on their sound and growing in confidence. “Another Night” is out May 6.

Ghost Loft – Seconds

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Ghost Loft’s new single “Seconds” is a refreshingly original mixture of glossy samples, lush indie vocals and deeb reverberated r&b-beats. Danny Choi, the one man army behind Ghost Loft has obviously got a great talent of balancing wide-ranging influences into three minutes of accessible pop sensibilities. “Seconds” has one foot in the former chillwave movement, with an aesthetic resembling Washed Out and Neon Indian, while the other lies in the same pool as the reborn r&b scene (How To Dress Well, The Weeknd even Burial). The demo of “Seconds” has flourished the net for a while now, but it now got  a final make-over and a haunting video to accompany it.