Music Reviews

Lycia

Compilation Appearances Vol. 1

Projekt

Lycia’s A Day in the Stark Corner (1993) was the first Projekt CD I bought, and is still one of my favorites. Its chill gothic ambience captured perfectly a certain sense of morbid isolation blossoming into the corpse-flower of bitterness that turns even the brightest day into blackest night. I remember being surprised then that Lycia’s frigid synths and shards of icy guitar had emanated from Mike VanPortfleet’s home in Arizona rather than some Antarctic realm closer to Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness, and that fact still amazes me eight years later as I listen to this CD of Lycia’s compilation appearances “recorded between 1990 and 1994–the Arizona years” (according to the CD’s subtitle).

Probably the biggest surprise for me on this mostly excellent 70-minute-plus collection was how much of Lycia’s early material falls pretty comfortably into the gothic rock realm, even though I’d always thought of the group as being more ambient in tone. Partly this results from a trick of fate, as VanPortfleet explained in the liner notes to Projekt 100 (on which two of the tracks on this CD first appeared); he had recorded almost a full album’s worth of harsher material under the working title Byzantine, but shelved it “when the initial mixing sessions produced nothing more than uncontrolled mud.” The album that eventually resulted was 1991’s Ionia, which was much more ambient-sounding. Both the tracks here from the Byzantine sessions combine deep, Andrew Eldritch or Carl McCoy-like intoned vocals with heavy beats and noisy, fuzzed-out guitars; “Excade Decade Decada” suffocates you with incredibly dark synth atmospheres and a voice from the crypt begging you to “take this away,” while the hypnotic voice on “Byzantine” intones its almost-subliminal messages in an echoing whisper buried under layer upon layer of distortion.

Given how much I loved A Day in the Stark Corner, it should come as no surprise that I also really enjoyed “Everything Is Cold,” originally recorded during the sessions for that album. A heavy, cold, hammering beat in back mixes with pretty but disturbingly off-key acoustic guitar and VanPortfleet’s characteristically enigmatic lyrics to create a feeling of madness settling softly around your hunched shoulders like a gray, isolating shroud. “The Facade Fades” (from the 1993 compilation Love and Hate) takes a more straight-ahead goth/industrial approach, with slightly cliched but still cool lyrics and a really fine bass line.

All in all, this CD is an excellent collection of Lycia’s early work, essential for their fans, and a great introduction to the group for everyone else.

Projekt, PO Box 9140, Long Island City, NY 11103, http://www.projekt.com


Recently on Ink 19...

Gasoline Lollipops

Gasoline Lollipops

Features

Gasoline Lollipops’ newest single, “Freedom Don’t Come Easy,” is today’s mother lovin’ punk rock folk anthem.

Basket Case

Basket Case

Screen Reviews

Frank Henenlotter’s gory grindhouse classic Basket Case looks as grimy as the streets of Times Square, and that is one of the film’s greatest assets. Arrow Video gives this unlikely candidate a welcome fresh release.

Jimmy Failla

Jimmy Failla

Event Reviews

Despite the Mother’s Day factor, hundreds of fervent, faithful followers still flocked to Orlando’s famed Plaza Live to catch an earlybird set from Jimmy Failla — one of the hottest names on today’s national comedy scene.

Lonnie Walker

Lonnie Walker

Features

Ink 19 readers get an early listen and look at “Cool Sparkling Water,” a new single from Lonnie Walker.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Event Reviews

Jeremy Glazier has a bucket list day at a Los Lobos 50th Anniversary show in Davenport, Iowa.

Always… Patsy Cline

Always… Patsy Cline

Archikulture Digest

Carl F. Gauze reviews the not-quite one-woman show, Always… Patsy Cline, based on the true story of Cline’s friendship with Louise Seger, who met the star in l961 and corresponded with Cline until her death.

Lorraine of the Lions

Lorraine of the Lions

Screen Reviews

A lady Tarzan and her gorilla have a rough time adapting to high society in Lorraine of the Lions (1925), one of four silent films on Accidentally Preserved: Volume 5, unleashed by Ben Model and Undercrank Productions, with musical scores by Jon C. Mirsalis.