| Artist: Lycia|
CD Title: Empty Space
Label: Silber Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Originally recorded in 1999 as Lycia's final studio album and shelved for years due to various factors (including problems with their former label), Empty Space is now getting the release it deserves on Silber Records. Picking up after Estrella (Tripping Back into the Broken Days technically being a release by side-project Estraya that was released under Lycia due to label pressure), this 42-minute disc is an epic career-spanning release.
Featuring something of a reunion lineup of Lycia members past and present, Empty Space returns to the ethereal layered guitar sound and intricate retro drum programming of the band's earliest days (I'm talking Wake-era) while retaining the more upbeat melodies and song structures of their more recent material, most notably The Burning Circle and Then Dust and Estrella. Despite blending elements of some ten years of history, all of the pieces fall into place, creating a comfortable, familiar blend. John Fair's drum programming seems to have changed little since Lycia's early days and sounds perfectly at home here. David Galas provides the usual competent bass anchor. Mike VanPortfleet's trademark layered processed guitars and moody semi-whispered vocals are as strong as ever. Tara Vanflower's vocals sound fairly close to her work on Estrella, but with a slightly altered timbre and vibrato that's slightly reminiscent of Miranda Sex Garden's Katharine Blake.
The nine songs that form Empty Space consist of five tracks with vocals and four instrumentals. They maintain a somewhat moody atmosphere overall but also have a fairly consistent upbeat vibe and occasionally even showcase pop sensibilities and almost catchy melodic content. Despite the album's somewhat retro Lycia sound, fans looking for another bleak offering along the lines of Ionia or A Day in the Stark Corner won't find it here. Instead, Lycia fans will find a happy medium between the past and present, effectively rolling the band's diverse catalogue into one all-encompassing, definitive Lycia sound.
In a way, Empty Space is the perfect final album, bringing the band's work around full circle and allowing their evolution to take them back to their roots. From the atmospheric opening of "Not Here, Not Anywhere" to the fadeout of the appropriately titled "This Is The End", Lycia's short-but-sweet swan song is the album fans have been waiting for, flawed only by the fact that it leaves you hungering for more that will likely never come.
Lycia website: www.lyciummusic.com