2 The Visitor
5 Grand Rapids
6 The Pier
7 Spring Trees
8 The Wind Sings
9 Dead Leaves Fall
10 Dead Star, Cold Star
11 The Soil Is Dead
Projekt re-releases LYCIA’s out-of-print 9th album in a limited edition of 1000.
|Purchase in Europe for fast, inexpensive shipping:
Information in English here. Click to order CD.
With 2013’s breathtaking and bewitching Quiet Moments, Lycia truly kicked off their second era. Written, performed, and recorded by Mike VanPortfleet with additional vocals from Tara Vanflower, these 11 tracks retain the band’s familiar hypnotic post-punk/dark rock muse while simultaneously sounding fresh and original.
“It’s not often a band comes back from a long hiatus with anything approaching its best work,” writes Craig Hayes in PopMatters, “but with Quiet Moments Lycia has returned with an album as blissful and fascinating as Cold or The Burning Circle and then Dust. Quiet Moments presents a beautiful portrait of Lycia in 2013, reaching in and grasping at the heart with bittersweet, pensive, and luxurious sounds.”
With emotionally raw songs and plenty of mournfulness, Quiet Moments is a deeply personal and honest album — delving into isolation, existence, love and loss. The album explores eternal themes through glimpses into Mike’s private life and innermost thoughts. In a sense these are plaintive snapshots of memories — VanPortfleet’s personal recollections of an icy, distant past.
Lycia creates meaningful yearning imagery, and deep, immersive evocativeness. Creating that moody atmosphere is exactly what Lycia does best – turning the mournful into the majestic to make meditative suites. With echoing vocals rising through wintry drones, and light reflecting off glazed guitars and billowing, shimmering electronics and effects, Quiet Moments is 64 minutes of expressive, eloquent, and chilling music.
Craig Hayes writes, “Lycia has provided some achingly blissful suites in the past, and Quiet Moments ranks up there with its very best work.”
Pitchfork: Quiet Moments certainly harkens back to the early 90s glory days of Lycia—it’s slow and heavy and solemn, but it’s pretty, too. You’ve taken a lot of stylistic detours under the name of Lycia, but is this album an attempt to restate the band’s claim to that sound? And if so, did you revert to your old approaches to make it work?
Mike: I went in the studio with a vague idea of what I wanted. I wanted to return to the Lycia style of the early 90s. When I think of Quiet Moments, I think it’s a sister album to A Day in the Stark Corner from 1993. My approach in the initial stages in working on Quiet Moments was very similar to my approach for working on a lot of the Stark Corner material.
But I think Quiet Moments approaches a lot of the same themes from a much more mature angle. In the 90s, my view of the world was a little more tunnel vision, more focused on the immediate, more now. My scope of vision is a lot wider. It’s not just dwelling on whatever is bothering me. I used to focus in, and it was useful and primal. Now, it’s a little more sedate.
LYCIA | 4
The ultra-limited LYCIA | 4 4CD box set contains 2010’s Fifth Sun, 2013’s Quiet Moments, 2015’s A Line That Connects and 2018’s In Flickers. All four second era LYCIA albums are in DigiPaks (no additional booklets or music.)
Order it here.
For customers who bought In Flickers on CD last year, the USA Webstore is making this hard box available as a 3CD set. It does not include In Flickers… but it’s the same box, so there’s a space to put your copy in the box. This is not available from the European store.
From a feature in Popmatters:
There are many ways to describe darkwave band Lycia. Given the group’s quintessential gothic temperament, bleak, beautiful, esoteric, and ethereal all ring true. Mentioned less often, however, is the band’s influence on a raft of acts that have quarried the dark veins of evocativeness that Lycia exposed… With the band’s first full-length in a decade, Quiet Moments, due for release in August, Cold‘s reappearance is a timely reminder of Lycia’s legacy in the sphere of bewitchingly mournful music.
Lycia’s melding of dreamy synth and solemn rock has had a formative role to play in inspiring and nurturing artists who make brooding and shadowy rock and pop, and many contemporary noise, metal, and hauntological electronic outfits have also clearly drawn from Lycia’s darkly poetic oevure for inspiration. The band was originally founded as a solo project by guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist Mike VanPortfleet in 1988. However, it’s Lycia’s mid-‘90s work (with vocalist Tara Vanflower and multi-instrumentalist David Galas) that is most heralded for its blend of dark psychedelia, electronic soundscapes and spectral, plaintive vocals.
Diverse bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Prurient, Xasthur, Type O Negative, and a plethora of funereal and lugubrious artists, have acknowledged the inventiveness and poignancy of Lycia’s multilayered suites. The band’s mix of the haunting, heartbreaking and harrowing defines its aesthetic, but of course, Lycia wasn’t the first band to craft odes of deep sorrow. Post-punk and heavy-hearted luminaries such as Joy Division, Fields of the Nephilim, Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Sisters of Mercy, the Cure, and Bauhaus all contributed to putting bleak beauty on the map, and that topography has been explored by innumerable gothically saturated bands from the ‘80s onwards. However, Lycia was one of the most crucial darkwave bands born from gothic rock, electronica, and post-punk’s original moonlit romance.”
Reviews Editor –
A review from Popmatters
A few weeks back, Cold, darkwave icon Lycia’s 1996 album, was reissued on vinyl by label Handmade Birds. Its reappearance was a reminder, if you needed one, of Lycia’s important role in the realm of ethereal and dark ambient music. Cold is, by any measure, a gothic rock masterwork, and while fans often cite the album as the band’s very best work, you could point to 1995’s The Burning Circle and then Dust as being equally sublime.
Lycia was formed in Arizona in 1988 by Mike VanPortfleet, who was joined at various stages by David Galas, John Fair, and singer Tara VanFlower–although the band is down to the duo (and married couple) of VanPortfleet and VanFlower these days. For the past decade, Lycia has been on hiatus. In a recent interview, VanPortfleet said he’d spent the last ten years feeling like his “time had come and gone” and that “there were times when it seemed as though Lycia was nearly forgotten”. In one sense, that’s understandable. The kind of bleak, romantic, and esoteric synth and shoegaze that Lycia provided retreated into an infinitely darker corner of the musical spectrum in the ’00s. And although Cold and The Burning Circle and then Dust are hallowed albums in solemn rock’s music halls, Lycia never sold the millions of albums that the Gothic rock superstars of the ’90s did.
However, Lycia’s influence, and the respect it’s afforded, has been far more profound than any record sales figures would suggest. While VanPortfleet might have felt his band was under-appreciated, you only need look to the resurrection of deathrock, the rise of witchy and hauntological electronica, shoegazing metal, eerily psychedelic Americana, or the rejuvenation of dark ambient music to see that Lycia’s legacy inspired a raft of musicians across a broad range of musical genres.
Lycia was never forgotten, and after a decade in the wilderness the band is returning with a brand new album, Quiet Moments. Obviously, that’s a celebration for fans, but it also means that Quiet Moments will be measured against what has become a noteworthy legacy for Lycia. The reemergence of a career highpoint like Cold is a reminder of what the band can achieve. Add on the fact that Lycia’s reputation has increased in its absence, and you’ve got a number of elements coming into play with the band’s new release. Expectations can and do get a little warped when an influential and much-admired band returns, and you might rightly ask if a new album in 2013 from Lycia can ever really hope to measure up to the band’s best work.
Well, thankfully, unlike the often lackluster or timid works of other bands coming back from hiatus, Quiet Moments is breathtaking and bewitching, mixing the familiar and expected while still offering something new. Written, performed, and recorded by VanPortfleet, with additional vocals from Vanflower, Quiet Moments is a deeply personal and honest album–and it’s all the more powerful because of that. Lycia’s past work was certainly autobiographical, with emotionally raw songs and plenty of mournfulness, but as VanPortfleet has said, Quiet Moments is his most intimate work–offering glimpses into his private life and innermost thoughts.
Lycia has taken the symbolism of the changing seasons, bound that to notions of location and nostalgia, and channeled all through a gothic filter for a haunting, heart-rending aesthetic. As a result, Quiet Moments retains the band’s previous hypnotic mood. Delving into isolation, existence, love and loss, the album covers the same eternal themes that Lycia has always explored. Tracks like “Grand Rapids” and “The Pier” capture plaintive snapshots of memories, and while these are VanPortfleet’s personal recollections, the symbolism allows you to immerse yourself in Quiet Moments, take the poetic elements from his tale, and make the memories your own.
That’s always been a key feature of Lycia’s allure–its ability to weave stories around felicitous sounds. Musically, while Quiet Moments retains much of Lycia’s enchanting signature tone, it’s not without its surprises too. Darker psychedelia, a kosmischeundercurrent, dissonant washes of noise and low frequency pulses appear alongside the expected stark electronic beats, VanPortfleet’s susurrus vocals, and waves of effects-driven guitars, all drenched in the ebb and flow of shimmery keyboards.
Of course, creating that moody atmosphere is exactly what Lycia does best–turning the mournful into the majestic to make meditative suites. Certainly, “Antarctica” is simultaneously contemplative and Cold, conjuring snow flurrying over desolate landscapes as VanPortfleet sings of his childhood. With echoing vocals rising through wintry drones, and light reflecting off glazed guitars and billowing effects, Quiet Momentsdoes call to mind the glacial grandeur of Cold. “Greenland” finds VanPortfleet looking over “the icy shores of a frozen land”, where “the truth is revealed”, with a sub-harmonic hum prodding at the bitter bite of isolation, while lush effects and weeping keyboards all wind around treated guitars.
“Antarctica” and “Greenland” reaffirm that Lycia can still provide all the chills, along with plenty of yearning imagery, and deep, immersive evocativeness. The scratching hiss running under “The Wind Sings” brings to the fore all the songs lyrical turbulence, set to viewing relationships in better times. “Dead Star, Cold Star” is cosmic electronica awash in metallic noise, while VanPortfleet gazes at the heavens through all the darkened ambience of dusk. Both tracks are deeply expressive, eloquent and meaningful, but surprises also await on Quiet Moments.
“Dead Leaves Fall” brings industrial beats and grungier noise to twist around an icy guitar line, accompanied by grim, even vengeful, lyrics. “The Soil is Dead” sits halfway between radio stations, picking up echoes of static bouncing off satellites, while vocals from VanFlower swirl in the mist. However, while both those tracks show VanPortfleet heading into sterner musical territory, “Spring Trees” stands out as the album’s most surprising, and in turn beautiful, track.
“Spring Trees” seems to be VanPortfleet’s and VanFlower’s ode to their young son, and unlike much of the forlornness of Lycia’s past, the song is bursting with hope. “To see wonder in his eyes / Erases all these troubled thoughts and troubled times / I’ll sacrifice me… for we / His happiness seems to be / The beating heart of our family”. Lycia has never been as revealing, and with rougher guitars weaving through sanguine psychedelia, and VanPortfleet’s voice backed by VanFlower’s ethereal echo, it’s a track made all the more intoxicating by its openness and elegance.
It’s not often a band comes back from a long hiatus with anything approaching its best work, but with Quiet Moments Lycia has returned with an album as blissful and fascinating as Cold or The Burning Circle and then Dust. The only thing fans might miss here is VanFlower’s voice, which only appears briefly; but then, this is VanPortfleet’s tale, and (bar one song with lyrics from VanFlower) these are his reflections.
Quiet Moments continues the gothic electro-rock of Lycia’s past, but the album requires no reminiscences about the band’s legacy to appreciate its strengths. It stands on its own merits, here and now, and while this couldn’t be an album from anyone else–because no one else sounds like Lycia–VanPortfleet hasn’t tried to compete or capture anything from Cold or The Burning Circle and then Dust. He’s made an album that’s an honest representation of where he sits today as a songwriter, and in doing so, Quiet Moments is yet another step in the band’s creative evolution.
Quiet Moments presents a beautiful portrait of Lycia in 2013, reaching in and grasping at the heart with bittersweet, pensive, and luxurious sounds. Lycia has provided some achingly blissful suites in the past, and Quiet Moments ranks up there with its very best work.
Reviews Editor –
A review from Pitchfork
For over two decades, Arizona’s Lycia have been pioneers of “darkwave,” a reverb-drenched, gothic take on dreampop. This is the Cocteau Twins, if they looked so far inward that they began to focus on the darker, downer-ridden side. Along with lovesliescrushing, who freed shoegaze from pop conventions, they became one of the noteworthy and boundary-pushing acts on the goth music label Projekt. Quiet Moments , their first release for Handmade Birds (run by Rich Loren of Pyramids, Sailors With Wax Wings, and White Moth), is consistent with their past efforts, while remaining an intriguing headphone journey.
At this point, Lycia are basically Mike VanPortfleet, the multi-instrumentalist has always been the band’s creative center, though longtime member Tara Vanflower contributes vocals to “The Soil Is Dead” and Spring Trees”. They sound like a band that takes their time. It’s not just in the pace of the music, but in all of the layers. Somber synths permeate the record, often drawling and creating a fog that covers everything. The percussion is mechanical, and its repetitiveness lends to the drone. Guitars sound like disembodied rock solos, severed from boogie and strangled out into something darkly beautiful. There are faint memories of sweet leads from radio jams, but they become mutated and placed into a context wholly unlike anything that would resemble rock. In particular, the guitars bring to mind the lush metal of October Rust-era Type O Negative, albeit spaced out and even more blissful. Peter Steele was an early champion of Lycia, stating in an interview from 1995 that their album A Day in the Stark Corner had a great effect on him: “If I put it on in the morning when I get up…I’m useless for the rest of the day. It’s just devastating, as beautiful as it is devastating.” Lycia opened for Type O Negative on some of the dates in support of Rust. He picked up on their sound for one of the band’s biggest albums, and Lycia are returning the favor in their own way on Moments.
If they could, Lycia would probably name all of their albums Cold, the title of their record from 1996. It’s an apt word for their sound, which, like the Rockies in December, can be as unforgiving as it is serene. “Antarctica” and “Greenland”, whose names and placements next to each other on Moments could hardly be considered a coincidence, represent Moments at its most frost-bitten. Percussion becomes more sparse, the guitars feel even more alien: “Grand Rapids” makes the album crawl slower, and the next track, “The Pier,” sees Lycia bringing Moments to almost a halt. The last three songs on Moments reflect a sharp shift towards more beat-oriented territories. Still, it’s hardly danceable.
If Justin K. Broadrick was listening to Lycia when he first began making music as Jesu, it would not come off as a surprise. Vanportfleet’s lyrics speak to a melancholy that’s left intentionally open-ended, and his vocal approach even resembles Broadrick at his most tender and vulnerable. “The Visitor” is devastating, exploring abandonment: “I wait and wait to hope to see/ someone from my family/ Will no one come to visit me?/ I could use the company.” Loneliness is so rampant that you have to wonder if there is a “visitor” at all. Pains of childhood are also touched upon in “Antarctica” (“I see old pictures of a boy (me)/ standing, so alone and far away/ buried for miles and miles and miles”) and “Rapids” (“In sleep I see the city/ from building tops alone/ fading childhood memories/ This never, can ever, by my home”). Moments‘ cover features photos from VanPortfleet’s family collection, of VanPortfleet himself. He wants to go back, but where that is isn’t around anymore, or maybe it never was. The sentiment is vague, but also universal. Sure, this music isn’t wholly accessible, but many people can relate to VanPortfleet’s sense of loss and mystery.
Reviews Editor –
An interview with Mike from Pitchfork