Desert Island Discs #1: Tycho – Adrift

To make me write and help keep me motivated, as well as to supplement the ongoing Albums of the Decade series, I will also be covering my Desert Island Discs on the 14th of every month.


These days Scott Hansen’s Tycho project is practically a household name as far as downtempo music is concerned, his woozy sun-bleached tunes finding themselves in every chillout mix and livestream intermission thanks to their just about universal appeal. That was definitely not always the case though, as before 2011 and the release of his magnum opus sophomore LP Dive, Tycho was just a small fry part-time musician who’s only other record came out way back when in 2004 (Sunshine Projector for the unfamiliar, re-released in 2006 under the name Past Is Prologue). Indeed, many people rather irritatingly referred to Dive as his debut when it was released and continue to do so, which is rather saddening considering its transformative impact on my music listening. He had a small, dedicated fanbase waiting patiently for the day he’d return prior to him ultimately exploding in popularity, and he found another eager fan in me when I first discovered Adrift in 2009.

In my last AotD piece on Lusine’s A Certain Distance I made it plain that it was a record pretty much instrumental in directing me down a new musical avenue towards more Ambient orientated music, but it wasn’t precisely the defining moment for me; in fact, without me hearing Adrift and discovering Ghostly I would never have listened to Lusine, never expanded my horizons like I did, maybe never fallen in love with Ambient and likely as not never started HearFeel. As far as I’m concerned, my love for music and the diversification of my tastes in the last few years stem entirely from this single piece that I just happened to stumble across whilst procrastinating one afternoon. I love this piece and its artwork so much I even have a huge framed print signed by the man himself, which is quite the endorsement for me.

Even without the rose tinted glasses this is a beautiful track in its own right and one of his career highlights in my mind. Still in the days when the synth was a necessary and significant character in his music but also at the tipping point into his exploration in using propulsive acoustic guitars and live percussion, it’s the perfect blend between the old and the new era Tycho. As a result it has the same deeply sun-kissed aura of his older stuff thanks to the rich & sustained synth tones, but maintains a more corporeal and grounded attitude that really seems alive in the moment despite its aloofness thanks to the supplemental instrumentation. There’s no Boards of Canada comparisons in sight with this one as it shimmers across the water in leggy and languid motions; 8 years later and it’s still a quintessential Summer evening track that revels in its smeared and refractive atmospherics and I can’t wait for the Sun to come around this year to find the perfect moment to hear this again.