Beyond the Horizon Line
You sort of knew what to expect from Mike VanPortfleet’s Lycia, but his first solo album since the band’s demise is far more than you could possible hope for. The dark ambience of Beyond the Horizon Line is devastatingly rendered, making for an album of transient beauty — throughout, dark clouds hide beneath the calm of his music. The slow opener, “Deep in the Morning Sound,” sets the album’s tone, the music rarely rising above a whisper but rendered with such precision and clear intensity. Unlike most gothic ambient albums, Beyond the Horizon Line is never reducible to mere background music. VanPortfleet is clearly inspired by the early European electronic music that so defined his work with Lycia, and he still retains the predilection for the New West that marked Lycia as one of the more unique voices in this genre. Beyond the Horizon Line quietly shifts between open landscapes and pristine, logical clarity. Only on the album’s final track does a sense of urgent despair creep through, punctuating the sense of an entire piece of music being rounded up and brought to its conclusion.
Beyond the Horizon Line proves that VanPortfleet didn’t stop when Lycia did, that he’s still got something to say, and even possibly still has his best work ahead of him.