ALBUM REVIEW: Tycho - Back To Mine

8/10

Tycho - Back To Mine

On Sept 30th, sublime chillwave and techno artist Tycho releases his contribution to the Back To Mine album series. Over two decades, the Back to Mine compilation series has released mix albums from renowned DJs, artists and composers of Electronic music. 

A remarkable feature of these compilations is that the featured artist is asked to select other performers' works that they would play at home at their leisure. The featured artist then remixes those selections. These compilations often reveal the inspirations the artist draws from for their own work.

The Back to Mine series works within a broad genre of contributors. The likes of New Order, Royksopp, Fat Boy Slim, Tricky, and others have provided notable offerings. This release coincides with Tycho celebrating launching his first-ever Web 3-based music fan community, Tycho Open Source. The platform is envisioned as a web connection between the artist and his fans.

San Francisco-based Tycho is considered one of the major influences on ambient/chillwave music. For fans of Tycho, Back to Mine provides a unique format giving a glimpse into his musical origins. His progressive, futuristic yet lo-fi sonic has been described as harkening to themes of nostalgia, childhood, longing and the natural world. He has been compared to DJ Shadow, Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss.

Tycho steps up to deliver his compilation of favourite tracks, along with two of his unreleased recordings. He goes beyond his live sets to create "an opportunity to enter that whole headphone, otherworldly, cinematic, soundscape space." The 16 tracks were pulled from the likes of Slowdive, Little Dragon, Luke Abbott, Casino Versus Japan and several other artists. The sonics are almost a dream sequence as the album moves through the various moodscapes that Tycho is renowned for creating.

This episode of Back to Mine is a sophisticated metropolitan soundtrack. Tycho brilliantly reinterprets each song, never losing the essence of what makes the track win in the first place. Those familiar with ambient, techno, or chillwave will be impressed with the more popular attributed track remixes, but the obscure tracks are the true gold on the release. One of the first highlights is Tycho's interpretation of Nate Mercereau's "Of Course That's Happening", with its brilliant edgy jazz horn. Tycho's version of Panama's "Destroyer" is another track that demands a listen. It is quintessentially Tycho and additionally channels New Order and wouldn't feel out of place on the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie. Other standouts are Luke Abbott's "Modern Driveway" remix and Tourist's "Elixir."

The final five tracks underline why Tycho is a techno lover's favourite. Tycho's magnificent take on Ulrich Schnauss' "In All the Wrong Places" displaces his love of the variation of the ambient palette on this selection. His choice of Slowdive's "Sugar for the Pill" was inspired. Somehow Tycho takes this sublime track and makes it even more alluring.

Tycho not only honours his inspirations on Back to Mine but offers four tracks of his own, two remixed and two new releases. "Spectre (Bibio Remix)" is spectacular at conjuring up a gorgeous blend of acoustic guitars and otherworldly splendour. On "Local", there is this inherent balance as the drums take the lead on this short but sweet selection. "PBS (Live Edit)" is a great exercise in ambient goodness. The final selection is the eponymous track which clocks in at an hour and fourteen minutes of sophisticated ambient sonics to accompany your next cocktail party.

Tycho offers a beautifully curated walk through his inspirations and remixes with his episode of Back to Mine. He accomplishes what he set out to provide a stellar headphone experience. He creates throughout the tracks a soundscape dream sequence like no other. He has wrought a release that honours his inspirations while allowing listeners to understand his own listening choices. Ambient/Techno fans will find that this compilation scratches an itch as Tycho provides an exhilarating release.

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