Arizona based darkwave pioneers Lycia are set to release their brand new EP ‘Casa Luna’ via Avantgarde Music. Lycia have had a very rich and varied past forming all the way back in 1988 and have since secured their status as cult legends of the goth / darkwave / ethereal wave genres. In particular, they produced two back-to-back highly regarded underground records in ‘The Burning Circle and Then Dust’ (1995) and ‘Cold’ (1996). Mike VanPortfleet has been the only consistent member since their inception, but other current members John Fair, David Galas and especially Tara VanFlower have also been huge main players in the band’s creative history. Coming from the label, VanPortfleet describes this record as a follow-up to 2018’s ‘In Flickers’ but with a more varied approach, both stylistically and thematically.
Lycia have honed their unique sound over the years and their dedication to chilling, sombre and ominous sounds has become a huge staple of their likability. They achieve this through a mix of deep soundscapes, effect laden guitars, haunting keyboards, mesmerising vocals and more, there is plenty to digest when listening to Lycia and ‘Casa Luna’ is no different in terms of instrumentation. Opening track ‘A Quiet Way To Go’ takes us on an ethereal walk that we are enticed on by Tara VanFlower’s opening vocals. Instantly we are taken into Lycia’s masterfully crafted dreamscape with a constant lumbering beat and some light guitar work dancing in the background.
Second track ‘Do You Bleed’ takes us on a bit more of a sonic journey with a distortion/white noise like wind (a constant throughout the entire track), which picks up and drops almost naturally. Throughout this blurry audio storm, a synth melody trickles in and out alongside VanFlower’s sinister vocals cutting through with some very evil undertones, especially when reciting the song’s title.
‘Except’ returns to the more dreamlike state that Lycia can masterfully conjure up, this time by using a very light and airy atmosphere with a steady, but driving rhythm. VanPortfleet leads us through this reverb and echo mist with mysterious whispers that you may almost mistake for your own self conscious speaking.
Lycia keep this light and airy vibe throughout the rest of the EP and on the track ‘Galatea’, they open with a very catchy synth lead that permeates the whole track in one shape or form. This provides a slightly more positive sounding track and is a good break-up of mood for the record. ‘Salt & Blood’, the final track, focuses a lot more on the acoustic guitar and gives off a somewhat Mediterranean characteristic accompanied by VanFlower’s angelic vocals taking centre stage.
Lycia have presented a fine addition to their already well-established back catalogue and a soft introduction to newcomers. Using a good balance of both VanPortfleet’s haunting voice and VanFlower’s beautiful, yet sometimes sinister voice provides plenty of variation and keeps the entire listen fresh and interesting. As always, Lycia have created a deep and rich atmosphere across all of the tracks using their signature style of synths, reverb and other effects. If you enjoy this one, then check out their previous release ‘In Flickers’ as the two share a similar, but not the same creative approach.
Highlights: ‘A Quiet Way To Go’ – ‘Galatea’ – ‘Salt & Blood’