If you’ve never heard Tycho before, prepare to be blown away.
Just released, Tycho’s new music video for their song “See” (off their latest album: “Awake”) is one of the more visually stunning and impressively original videos that we’ve seen this year. Not only is the music itself a masterful abstract sound-scape through ambient territory, we get to see the bands’ progression into a fully-realized vision of ambient electronic music created by an actual band – not just a synthesizer and computer program. They’ve crossed over into the realm of “real” musicians, rising on a pedestal in the ambient music scene that no others could come close to comparing to.
Artist and filmmaker Bradley “GMUNK” Munkowitz directed the video in a unique style; the performance footage has an ethereal beauty that could not be created any other way. We’ll break down how this video was created and what experimental techniques were used to paint this imagery. Watch the video first, then check out all the details after the jump:
The brain-child of graphic designer Scott Hansen (originally going by the moniker ISO50), Tycho is a band that’s evolved heavily over the years; starting with Hansen’s solo experimentation with retro-electronic sounds and psychedelic dream-scape audio-forms, it eventually led to the addition of a bassist and live drummer, carrying the minimalistic electronic sounds into an entirely new landscape of true performance art and a live show that blows anyone listening far away into a dreamlike state that could only be described as soul-encompassing artistic ecstasy.
This music video captures something we’ve never seen before. Using a full-spectrum camera, GMUNK’s team decided to use infrared lighting to film the band’s live performance, instead of any traditional lighting method. To achieve this, they used a Microsoft Kinect motion sensor – that’s the device used to track movement for video gaming with the XBOX system. The Kinect uses an IR transmitter which shoots out tiny particles of light to track movement, in a spectrum that’s invisible to the naked eye. The resulting effect is a starry-eyed constellation-type pattern projected over the band from all angles, rendering them into a virtual reality of sorts, rather than what we can see normally.
In order to achieve this effect, the band had to perform the full piece in TOTAL darkness. They could not see each other, the instruments, or where the camera was looking at any given time. They played naturally, without inhibition from light, trusting the filmmakers could capture something unique. As the Kinect sensors splayed out an array of patterns, the IR spots would hit the camera’s lens, flaring out in shimmer bokeh designs and disc-shaped lens-flares that couldn’t be created any other way. It seems so simple, and yet the resulting footage is stammering beyond reason.
To break up the performance footage, GMUNK’s team created an array of unique visual spectacles warping light and darkness in different ways, projecting patterns and abstract shapes fitting to the sound-scape of the music. I’ve personally seen Tycho perform live four times now in the past two years (each show growing in visual intensity and complexity, starting with a small bar in Portland, OR, with simple visuals and a small crowd, and eventually watching them tear up the Sasquatch music festival to a sea of mind-blown listeners), and this piece is the closest they’ve come to capturing the live experience in music video form. Each show is similar to a feature-length music video, incorporating psychedelic elements and movie footage of the highest quality.
Tycho is a force to be reckoned with; every year their popularity and skill grows, and each album compounds on what they’ve done before. It’s a constantly evolving art piece, both visually and audibly. It won’t be long before Tycho is a band recognized by the entire world for their eternally unique music style. And none of us can wait to see what they come out with next.