Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Artist: LYCIA
Title: In Flickers
Format: CD & 12"
Label: Projekt Records (@)
Rated: *****

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With In Flickers (2018) LYCIA present an excellent, unpretentious, very intimate and at the same time emotionally charged album (which is not a contradiction as LYCIA were able to demonstrate with songs such as “She” or “The Path”).

The programmed drum patterns are carefully arranged, unobtrusive, but always supportive - mostly mixed in the overall sound: very aesthetic.
The chord progressions of each song are simple / modest, but very fitting and aesthetic as well.
Rock-inspired, heavily distorted guitar and bass are gently embedded in synth sound voicings and fine melody ornaments. They all merge into big ambient soundscapes, over which the fragile, breathy voices of Mike VanPortfleet and Tara VanFlower lie like fog.

The vocals are also kept very simple: very fine, tender and intimate. With Mike, the vocals are more breathy (he might like to show a little more of his vocal sound!). Really nice melodies (mostly “ahh” backing melodies) very clearly sung and with a very authentic, natural sounding voice from Tara. The two voices are really well combined.

The whole album seems to be from one single source: a defined, very meditative mood, with a lot of space and an overall dark-melancholic spirit. Everything is coordinated, partially almost a bit monotonous, mostly calm and with generally little mood and sound contrasts, but with atmospheric-distorted and milky-foggy soundscapes, which definately has its charm. The sounds are very well chosen for all instruments and well-coordinated!

If there's one thing I miss about this album, it's the strong contrasts and tensions. Everything follows everything. Sometimes I really wanted at least a few more powerful sounds to be set in the compositions. The individual instruments and synth sounds could - at least in phases - be played more independently and take up a little more leeway. In this regard, I particularly like “Rewrite” because the bass here is strikingly more present than usual, which is really good! Or “25 Years”, in which the vocals of Mike and Tara are set a little stronger. In addition, this song has more metallic, penetrating sounds (somehow bell-like) coupled with more massive drums. Such elements fit perfectly and do not detract from the overall meditative mood.

Most of the pieces sound like they were played or sung through fog, very atmospheric and in places almost romantic-beautiful, in a somber way - obscure and dreamy (pieces like "She", "Mist", "34 Palms", "Late Night Solitude”, “Autumn Into Winter”). Songs like “A Failure” or “Mist” are a more rhythmic. I find songs such as “In Flicker”, “The Path”, “She” and “Rewrite” particularly well done, because they are very defined and original, with all the musical peculiarities of LYCIA. “The Path” is extremely atmospheric and expressive and my personal favorite (great drum programming!).

A wonderful album! Especially for those special bitter-sweet, melancholic, dreamy moments when you want to immerse your soul in dark and gloomy moods.

Personal listening tip: “The Path”

What went through my head spontaneously: it could be exciting if there was a collaboration between LYCIA and the thereminist and singer Dorit Chrysler - at least for one song. I have the impression that they would fit together extremely well.


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