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Friday, 08 November 2013 11:00

Concert review: Tycho and Beacon rivet electronic music fans at Plush, Wednesday, November 6

Concert review: Tycho and Beacon rivet electronic music fans at Plush, Wednesday, November 6
Written by Blair Stiles

The ambiance of Beacon's R&B-tinged compositions harken back to the '90s. Back then "CrazySexyCool" exemplified sex-imbued music without turning carnality into gratuity.

Beacon's records have tapped into that mature air of diplomatic wantonness. On Wednesday night, vocalist and producer Thomas Mullarney and producer Jacob Gossett brought a sensual air to Plush that never delved into the lascivious echoes of inexplicably lecherous R&B. Tycho's opener Beacon proved how ageless a zeitgeist-crumpled bass is when it's paired with tales of seduction.

Crouched around his microphone, Mullarney cooed in a suggestive falsetto as Gossett tweaked his analogue synth for an atonal hum. "Drive" gave Gossett an opportunity to exemplify Beacon's minimalistic electronica lavished with R&B experimentation. Gossett patted a drum pad as Mullarney, his baby browns shut with the weight of internal dialogue, crept close to stage's edge. Mullarney sang as though he relived every second of frustration, every minute of despair as his lyrics rolled off his tongue.

As he sang, audience members knocked their knuckles in time to Beacon's synthetic plucks. The band's heady blend of meticulous, slow-burnt balladry with its soft shuffle of skittering synthesizer has the aural effect of listening to sounds underwater. Mullarney's Roland SP 404 SX samples melded with the lonely drone and crackle of Gossett's instruments.

When Beacon toured last year with How to Dress Well, Mullarney's pristine quiver had a femininity that was exemplified in a pleasing way over Gossett's handsome snare clips and ambient fuzz. This time, Mullarney's voice sounded taunt with the male-oriented needs written into "The Ways We Separate." Topped with monochromatic projections of prismatic shapes and designs, Mullarney and Gossett were unified in a welcoming, alluring sound. Whether or not Beacon's goal is to make mood music, live it has an aphrodisiacal power reserved for droopy-eyed love making.

Beacon's beautiful set was a comely segue into Tycho's ambient whirl. As audience members moved about with posters and vinyl clutched to their bosoms, Tycho began to play with live instruments as opposed to its synthetic and duplicated instrumentation on record. Tycho meistro, San Franciscan graphic artist Scott Hansen, manned a guitar and synth alongside a bassist and gifted touring drummer. Tycho was able to reimagine its electronic compositions with live instrumentation and ample, relevant projections.

Visions of sea foam splattered Hansen and company as surfers paddled waves behind them; Tycho's set shifted in gravitas and in composition. Hansen doled out a set segmented in terms of tempo and audience awareness. It began with tracks recognized in spades by the gabby audience. Hansen was never distracted by calls of "Play it louder!" or song requests. Instead, he laughed and asked St. Louis, rhetorically, if we felt well. Tycho's older tracks, mostly off 2011's "Dive," made a palatable, sleepy descent into Tycho's back catalogue.

Tycho began to rise from heavy-lidded ambiance by playing the back half of its set with tracks off an upcoming LP. The album's lead single, "Awake," bleated its tri-tonal patterns as the drummer bulldozed through his part with an insistent zeal. His garage-rock percussion gave the right beat to Hansen's meticulous arrangements in his music and artwork. He swatted his set with rapid gesticulations as Hansen and bassist kept in-time. As the set sky-rocketed in tempo, the audience grew quieter and focused on doing its best white-person two-step.

By the time the band reemerged for its encore, the beats were lifted to an insatiable degree. The audience would have needed a collective body cast to cease its loose shoulder shrugs and cranium swings. The visceral new tracks were powered to ease their way inside us without a stir. It felt right to tilt our heads back and throw our chests forward with every downbeat. Tycho's untitled upcoming LP has yet to receive a name, or a release date. After last night's show, the audience will wait with bated-breath for its release.

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