Lycia: Estrella (Silber Records, 2005)

by Jason

Lycia estrellaLycia has re-released their last album, Estrella. This album is breathtaking, to say the least. Called “Dark Wave” by Silber Records, this album recalls the glory days of the Cocteau Twins. Lycia released their final album at the end of the 1990s. Being made up Tara Vanflower and Mike VanPortfleet, Lycia creates dark, moody ambient pieces that are enigmatic and emotive.

“Clouds in the Southern Sky” begins the album and leads the listener into the world of Estrella. It is a slow tempo track with simple drums and wonderful layers upon layers of wistful keys that create a luscious soundscape. “El Diablo” also has a beautiful, haunting melody. Vanflower offers her vocals mixed in among the waves. The drum work and vocal work remind me of those Cocteau Twins moments when they were most haunting. This track is about a serpent, the Devil, who has a woman captive in his convincing grip. What is awesome is the ability, not only of the lyrics to convey darkness, but the lush, haunting darkness that is contained in the music to match them. “Tainted” is a slow, patient piece that creates a somber mood with VanPortfleet on vox. His vocals feel very gothic amidst the dramatic mood created by the music. The song is about the loss of innocence and hope.

“Tongues” starts with tribal-like drums. The spacey sounds come in and then Vanflower releases the power of her voice. It’s gorgeous, especially when she really lets it go. In this track, her voice is used as an instrument among the floating keys. “Estrella” is a heavenly song that actually brings a bright spot in the album. The lyrics speak of love and, perhaps, being intertwined with another whole-heartedly. “Dome” is epic sounding, with what sounds like angelic voices floating through deep, low hums. This track really has a breathy feel to it that is beautiful. This is perhaps my favorite track on the disc. “Silver Silver” starts with a light feel. Perhaps, having found love, the bliss continues for Lycia. Again, this is a breathtaking take that floats along and is light and really counter-balances the dark parts of this album.

”The Canal” begins with some drum work and works into a more ambient, listful feel that is powerful and epic. There are even some eastern sounding chords and tones in this track. Vanflower really lets her voice soar on this track and it’s amazing. “The Kite” flows back into the moody, somber tone that was prominent in the first part of the disc. VanPortfleet lends his dramatic voice to the track. The lyrics have a desperate feel, with a kite as the central point of the imagery. “Orion” is spacey and Vanflower sings about love again and uses imagery of the stars to describe her moments. It’s really an intricate, beautiful track that sets up the track that anchors this fabulous disc. “Distant Fading Star” is just a beautifully executed ambient track. It really ends the disc in a perfect way and finishes the feel of the whole disc in an epic style.

This is a completely coherent piece of art. It is a very dark album, but it has moments where the light peers through the cracks and crags of the mournful, sorrowful ambience. The landscapes are bleak at times, but they are oh so beautiful. Estrella is a brilliant piece of art.

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