| Artist: Lycia|
CD Title: Estrella
Label: Silber Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Originally released in 1998 on Projekt Records, Lycia's Estrella is now available on Silber Records, newly remastered by Mike VanPortfleet and apparently containing the band's original intended artwork layout. In essence, Estrella was Lycia's last fully realized studio album, with Tripping Back into the Broken Days really being an album by side-project Estraya released under the Lycia name and the semi-recently released Empty Space being an abandoned album later fleshed out by a few finished instrumental tracks.
For those that are unfamiliar with the album, Estrella sort of blends the ethereal sound of Cold with that of the more structured and straightforward The Burning Circle and Then Dust along with rhythmic and sonic elements of some of the band's early material. Whereas Lycia's previous albums were largely centered around frontman Mike VanPortfleet's trademark scratchy ethereal whispers, Estrella more prominently features the ethereal vocals of Tara Vanflower. The resulting album not only falls closer to mainstream darkwave territory than much of the band's previous work, but is also, while certainly moody, a bit less bleak. Standouts include the rhythmic ethereal dirge "El Diablo", almost recalling The Cocteau Twins' Garlands album, the haunting "Tongues", the spectacularly beautiful and immersive atmosphere of the disc's moody title track, the airier and more upbeat "Silver Sliver", and the plodding percussion and swirling atmospherics of the powerful "Orion".
For those that already have the original release, the remastered disc sounds clearer and more dynamic, a difference that is quite noticeable when the two are played side by side. The artwork essentially consists of darker versions of some of the images that appeared in the Projekt layout and a few that didn't. On the negative side, it should also be noted that the booklet here is only 4-panel as opposed to the lengthier booklet with full lyrics that was included with the original release. It's a good remaster, but with no real bonus material included, the remastered audio may not be enough to justify a purchase for those that already own the 1998 release.
Newcomers to Lycia or fans that don't yet own this album should certainly grab this reissue. The choice will probably be tougher for those fans that have had the album for 6 or 7 years. Still, it's good to see this modern underground ethereal/darkwave classic available in its originally intended form and sounding better than ever.
Lycia website: www.lyciummusic.com
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