San Franciscan artist, Scott Hansen, goes by two different guises.
The first is Tycho, the label he assumes for his ambient, chillwave-inspired electronic project. The second is ISO50, a name he takes up for his graphic art and design efforts.
Even though tonight, Hansen is billed as Tycho, it seems as much an ISO50 performance as it does a Tycho one. Harking back to the ground-breaking lightshows of Pink Floyd’s mammoth onstage performances, Hansen aims to show us the boundless potential in converging musical and visual art to create something altogether more spectacular.
Dressed in silken white, Hansen looks graceful as he swivels between his carousel of the synthesisers that surround him. Impressively, he uses a live band to bring his compositions to life. His drummer, Rory O’Connor, niftily mimics the automated patterns of drum machine loops and breakbeats, while the remaining members revolve around an array of traditional instruments and electronic equipment.
Behind his band is an enormous screen. This, rather than the musicians, forms the centrepiece of the show. As they play cuts from his latest effort, Epoch, we are treated to all manner of projections. In one moment, we glimpse fragments of an unknown, otherworldly art film. In the next, we soar through the Grand Canyon or traverse alpine forests.
It’s a kind of space-age rethinking of the early days of cinema, when orchestras played along to a silent film in real time, as its members sat in the pit below the screen.
At its most intense, the experience is almost transcendental. Hansen aims straight for sensory overload as we are drawn beyond the sights and sounds of his musicians and up to the technicolour, kaleidoscopic forms that loom over them.
His more well-known and rousing tracks like ‘Montana’ and ‘A Walk’ serve to reenergise the audience after fairly long bouts of ambient languor, but really, Hansen isn’t aiming for the traditional peaks and troughs of a live set.
Instead, the show proves to be a multi-media, multi-sensory exercise in the power of the distant over the immediate, in the elusive over the lucid. In doing so, Hansen pulls off a delicate balancing act. It’s minimalistic yet captivatingly textural. It’s achingly emotive, yet delivered with the calculated precision that only electronic music can offer.
The result is an intriguing, transformative soundtrack for a non-existent film that we would imagine to be just as alluring.