Memories of what I never had...
J. Lloyd | Baltimore, MD USA | 02/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Humm, took a couple days, I was lost in the sleeve art. You know, I miss more work that way...Mike VanPortfleet dissolved Lycia and retired from music in 1999, shortly after the release of Estraya's "The Time Has Come And Gone." This, therefore, is not new but rare and unreleased material from the band's earlier years. As the title clearly states, the collection covers approximately the first 4 years of Lycia's travelogue of the spacious, black and resonant; a second collection will be released later in 2001.Happily, the rare tracks are actually pretty rare, which is a rarity. So often you end up rationalizing a purchase like this with the thought: "well, now I've got it all in one spot." The titles many of these tracks appeared on originally are quite out of print; several were on limited pressings released with underground European music zines. "Dusk," "Fields," and "The Deception" were slatted for compilations that fell through. Yes, if you were the type who stalked the projekt catalog and TEQ? for anything related to VanPortfleet's Army of the Swarming Night, you probably have a good deal of this. But some of it was unreleased, and besides, you'll want it to have it all in one spot. If you are digging through [the] reviews trying to find out what people have to say about this band because you saw their albums at Mabel's house and the covers looked real pretty but Mabel she listens to some pretty weird stuff and you wanna know what you're getting yourself into first, I'll offer a few insights: Lycia music, from these first four years, is characterized by an alternating sense of too much space and too little. Guitars somewhere between the rain and a scream in the throat, reverberating male vocals that would be scary were they not so sexy, and drum machines where angels fear to tread. Think of those optical illusion pictures you stared at when you were little: one minute the box popped out of the page, and the next it sunk back in? Kinda like that, sorta. The mystery of Lycia music is that it has the potential to expand your consciousness past the furthest reaches of the desert; your awareness becomes so acute you can feel clouds shifting and insects nesting underground. Once you have let that unimaginable sound completely transcend everything you know to be real--it slams that existential doorway, lets you know what your limits truly are. Pure agony, I grant you, but all suffering should be so exquisite. This disc wouldn't be the worst place to start, for the neophyte. "Ionia" would be a better call for a first album, as I'm prone to squirm a little at the disjointedness inherent to any collection--it's better to jump in to a band like this without attempting to acclimate. The beauty is all the more profound if you have no idea what's coming. For a seasoned listener, it will instill a warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia (yes, it WILL) for that untouchable Lycia of old. After a couple of listens, the uneven-collection-sound diminishes and you are easily able to slide back into those bittersweet days of yore--when you were still the only one on your block to even know what a Lycia was. Avoid while operating heavy machinery and keep from the tender reach of little children, per usual..."
The one band that all others are judged against.
Michael A. Ventarola | New Jersey | 11/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
CD: Compilation Appearances Vol. 1:
Songs Recorded Between 1990-1994
The Arizona Years
Reviewed By: Mike VentarolaWhen Mike VanPortfleet began making music, his idea was to create compositions that resonated with an internal muse, often diametrically opposed to what the whims of the major music labels may have been at any given time. This expounded notion to play from the heart, whether performing in a studio or before a live audience of 5 or 500, has been Lycia's trademark. In essence, VanPortfleet and the Lycia members have utilized the belief of creativity as an expressive force, gladly making it available to anyone who wanted to hear it. Those fortunate to have seen them play live always reported the almost ecstatic passion with the band's delivery on stage. This uncomplicated approach with making music as art has intrigued and delighted fans worldwide, securing the band's continuously growing underground phenomenon. Lycia has since disbanded, largely due to VanPortfleet's continuous battle with diabetes, however their 10-year reign as one of the top goth/ambient artists, is thus far unparalleled. All of the members continue to create music, however the grind of live tours is now behind them. The Compilation Appearances CD includes a wide range of styles, from post-punk to electronic ambient. These are 17 rare tracks from the early Lycia years as well as the entire Dust sessions, a Lycia instrumental side project. It is a great introduction for new fans as well as a delightful gem for the die-hard fans who thought they had all of Lycia's work in their collection. This is also Lycia before Tara VanFlower added her vocal talents to the work, which didn't arise until October 1994. The music delves into the darkest corners beyond the recesses of one's imagination as well as soars through optimistic heights. No one can ever accuse Lycia of being pigeonholed to one style, though there have been many imitators along the way. The work simply shimmers and glistens no matter what type of light or lack thereof that it is exposed to. The work , then as well as now, breaks new ground which often defies description.The graphic works on the CD sleeve are culled from Mike VanPortfleet's own personal photographic collection, treating us to another facet of his artistic ability. We are further exposed to his propensity to see the world with a keen eye for detail and precision. One can't help but hear music jumping out from the photographs, as their line and structure are as sleek as any note Lycia ever recorded.In an underground world where bands are trying to imitate the latest synth-pop craze to make some musical headway, Lycia managed to remain the Rumplestiltskin of the music world, weaving melodies that gleam like gold in the moonlit night. Even today, VanPortfleet et al have been continuously crafting music, cranking out so many side projects, that even the most ardent fan would have a tough time keeping up. All of the work from this disc represents an unpretentious parameter of artists whose work is fully approachable without being commercial. It is a great overview of some of Lycia's work, some previously available while others were never available to the public before now. The best way to really sum up Lycia is to equate the music with a museum masterpiece. The music, as well as the painted canvas, requires time to absorb, reflect and cogitate from various angles. Sadly, we have too many people today looking for the latest fad with a quarter beat who rarely stop to notice great art, painted or otherwise. Those who manage to go within themselves to understand where an artist's focus is coming from are more richly rewarded for the experience. Projekt Records has released another in a series of many more archived Lycia releases. If you haven't purchased a Lycia CD yet, you may want to start with this one since it is a retrospective and flashback to the beginning of what became the benchmark for the gothic ethereal world."
Another near perfect Lycia release
Dancing Ganesha | Bangalore, India | 02/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The songs on this album are moody, dark, and yet breathtaking. Nothing to be disappointed by on here."