Amazon.com - "This Is"
If you have stumbled across this CD accidentally, hold on just a moment. Don't touch that mouse. I am here to tell you that this is some of the most sublime music to come out of Dublin since the 1980s, when that city seemed to crank out a brilliant band or solo artist every other week. And Tychonaut aren't anything like any of those people (thank goodness, eh; these aren't the 80s). As a trio, their sound manages to be both stripped-down and lush at the same time, and their judgement is spot on: when to have fun with the music software, when to let a cello provide the atmosphere. You'll see fourteen tracks listed, but what you will hear are six songs that are perfect jewels and one that is silly but worth it, interspersed with little sonic interludes that come across as the sort of soundtrack we all wish we had following us around in our everyday lives. Of the songs, standouts are "Half Mast," "Your House from Mine" (surely the best obsessive-love-creep-out song since "Every Breath You Take" - really!), and "Tycho Brahe" with its bell-like tones that close out the album, best listened to after midnight. Well, it is about an astronomer after all. Finally, if you like your female vocalists, you cannot miss out on discovering Tychonaut's Carol Keogh. She can be as ethereal as Elizabeth Fraser or as earthy as Kirsty MacColl, often within the same song! My hat is off to her and to the guys. Please let them come take the US by storm, because they deserve to.
Incidentally, Tychonaut have a second album (a double CD, bliss!) that isn't listed on Amazon, but they've got a website. Go check it out.
Road Records - "Road Relish Single #13" 12.07.2004
Unlucky 13 will be the long-mooted split between The Tycho Brahe and Dinah Brand. We're really excited to have this one ready to go and it will be winding its merry way over to the Czech republic for pressing within the next few days (though not by means of An Post). You all know all about The Tycho Brahe don't you? Recent Meteor award nominees (whatever that means), creators of Ireland first studio double-album, studio-whizzes that also get rave reviews for their live gigs. The track they have given us is called "Before and After Seance" and I think its one of the best (certainly the spookiest) things they have done yet. There's a bit of a spiritual/religious theme continued on the flip with Dinah Brand's track "Perfect and Whole". While the Tychos are probably Ireland's most prolific band, Dinah Brand are anything but. Over a year ago they finally released their amazing debut album "Pale Monkey Blues" and we've spent the last year kicking main-man Dylan's ass to get into a studio and record a new track. Which he has, and its just as good as we had hoped. On the face of it these two bands have more or less nothing in common but they're both brilliant and both completely unique. And they were both formed form the remnants of much-admired Irish bands of the 1990's whose names began with P. Hows that for a spooky coincidence?
We don't have a launch gig booked for this yet but you'll hear all about it as soon as we do. Hot on the heels of the Tychos/Brand split we'll be releasing a Waiting Room/giveamanakick record. That'll be number 14 and we'll tell you all about it soon.
Hot Press - "Three times lucky" August 8 2002
Ex-Plague Monkeys Donal O'Mahony and Carol Keogh, and Jimmy Cake multi-instrumentalist Diarmuid Mac Diarmada, form new power trio The Tycho Brahe
Carol Keogh and Donal O'Mahony demonstrate that there's life after The Plague Monkeys with The Tycho Brahe, a three-piece outfit which also features David Kitt and Jimmy Cake man Diarmuid Mac Diarmada.
Fresh from working on Up The Country - a multimedia project with Donal Dineen that featured last month at the Galway Arts Festival - the not-at-all-workshy Dubliners have already released their debut album. This Is The Tycho Brahe is available from both Road and Tower Records, as well as from their own website (thetychobrahe.com).
Hot Press - "This Is" September 9 2002
This Is The Tycho Brahe
I love the gutsy assertiveness of a “This Is...” title. Face it, it’s a damn sight better than the boring old “Introducing...” tag for a debut album, and far more preferable to the common cop out of going eponymous.
The Tycho Brahe are the latest Dublin ensemble of marvellous mavericks, who number former Plague Monkeys Donal O’Mahony and Carol Keogh in their ranks alongside the noted multi-instrumentalist in David Kitt’s band, Diarmuid MacDiarmada. Daniel Figgis and our own Kim Porcelli also contribute some “processed” harmonium and cello respectively – so perhaps that should read Kim Porcellist! (Kaboum! Sorry Kim.)
It’s a joy to hear this miniature cast of local luminaries weave such a wonderful web of avant-pop. The performances are delicate yet assuringly confident and brilliantly produced, mixed and mastered by O’Mahony and MacDiarmada. Carol’s voice is the crowning ace in a strong pack. ‘Your House From Mine’ reminds me of Kristen Hersh, not so much in style but for its full-bodied, unmistakable distinctiveness.
The lyrical standard is also impressively high (eg, “The history of love has not been written/Just the history of its thieves/That is history’s brief” – ‘Tycho Brahe’) and the packaging and cover art are suitably elegant and minimally ornate.
I’d imagine the Danish astronomer from whom they lift their name is smiling down from the heavens approvingly.
Rating: 9 / 12
Hot Press - "Lucky The Bee" September 17 2003
Lucky The Bee
Woah – this threw us a curve. ‘Lucky The Bee’ is up-beat, compact, economic and (whisper it) catchy, with Carol Keogh wrapping her comely tonsils and artful words around the Tycho’s poppiest tune, embellished with quite delightful keyboard textures and white funk lite guitar. If the TB keep moving in this direction, they’re gonna end up the victims of daytime radio play.
Hot Press - "Love Life" September 17 2003
“Why do we automatically sink to fighting the uncontrollable things/When we could just pack up our belongings and go?”
That’s the first question The Tycho Brahe put to the jury on ‘Steel Wheels’, the breezily propulsive opening tune on their second album, and while this writer has no answer, I do have another query: “Why is it we feel compelled to chase only the ones who run away?” The vile Viconte de Valmont purred in Dangerous Liaisons, to which arch ice-bitch the Marquise de Merteuil snapped back “Immaturity.” When it comes to pop’s groaning banquet, we all turn into little Neros demanding finer wines and shinier baubles.
A couple of years ago I interviewed Carol Keogh and listened intently to what she had to say about keeping things small and beautiful, stressing music over personality. I rubbed my chin and reviewed the tape and scarcely agreed with a word she said. But… a fundamental difference in doctrines doesn’t preclude a reconciliation with the music. I like The Tycho Brahe a lot, plus, putting out a double album on no budget is ostentatious to the point of Wildean.
But is it vanity publishing?
No. Love Life is perfectly realised within its own parameters. The Tycho Brahe, more than any band operating out of this country, sound like no one so much as themselves. Obvious reference points are damn near impossible – I might resort to something like “mid-period Kate Bush fronting some lost 4AD band”, with the caveat that it be that label’s Les Mysteres Des Voix Bulgares as much as This Mortal Coil.
Their sound is polyphonic but also polyrhythmic; the pizzicato pluckings of ‘Imprint’ combine with scattershot snare drum and high drama strings to make a sound that is genuinely cinematic as opposed to simply aping treasured film scores.
I do have problems with some aspects of the record though. Carol Keogh’s words would scan like arthouse hand-wringing if her voice, somewhere between north of England folk chanteuse and indie cipher, didn’t render them synaesthetic. She’s more in love with her ideas than the desire to communicate them, so when a line like “We have only love, only love/Hold onto it”, cuts through the mix you have to savour the raw emotion invested in it. Moments like these strike the partial listener in a way that the more esoteric stuff can’t.
If Carol Keogh ever quits music, her recitation of ‘The Sun King’ should score her a regular gig on children’s television Storytime slots – provided the little tykes are whacked out on ’shrooms.
Rating: 7½ / 10
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