REVIEW: Lycia - "Compilation Appearances Vol. 1 - The Arizona Years"

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

Comp. Appearances Vol 1.When Mike VanPortfleet began making music, his idea was to create compositions that resonated with an internal muse, often diametrically opposed to what the whims of the major music labels may have been at any given time. This expounded notion to play from the heart, whether performing in a studio or before a live audience of 5 or 500, has been Lycia's trademark. In essence, VanPortfleet and the Lycia members have utilized the belief of creativity as an expressive force, gladly making it available to anyone who wanted to hear it. Those fortunate to have seen them play live always reported the almost ecstatic passion with the band's delivery on stage.

This uncomplicated approach with making music as art has intrigued and delighted fans worldwide, securing the band's continuously growing underground phenomenon. Lycia has since disbanded, largely due to VanPortfleet's continuous battle with diabetes, however their 10-year reign as one of the top goth/ambient artists is thus far unparalleled. All of the members continue to create music, however the grind of live tours is now behind them.

The Compilation Appearances CD includes a wide range of styles, from post-punk to electronic ambient. These are 17 rare tracks from the early Lycia years as well as the entire Dust sessions, a Lycia instrumental side project. It is a great introduction for new fans as well as a delightful gem for the die-hard fans who thought they had all of Lycia's work in their collection. This is also Lycia before Tara VanFlower added her vocal talents to the work, which didn't arise until October 1994.

The music delves into the darkest corners beyond the recesses of one's imagination as well as soars through optimistic heights. No one can ever accuse Lycia of being pigeonholed to one style, though there have been many imitators along the way. The work simply shimmers and glistens no matter what type of light or lack thereof that it is exposed to. The work, then as well as now, breaks new ground which often defies description.

The graphic works on the CD sleeve are culled from Mike VanPortfleet's own personal photographic collection, treating us to another facet of his artistic ability. We are further exposed to his propensity to see the world with a keen eye for detail and precision. One can't help but hear music jumping out from the photographs, as their line and structure are as sleek as any note Lycia ever recorded.

In an underground world where bands are trying to imitate the latest synth-pop craze to make some musical headway, Lycia managed to remain the Rumplestiltskin of the music world, weaving melodies that gleam like gold in the moonlit night. Even today, VanPortfleet et al have been continuously crafting music, cranking out so many side projects that even the most ardent fan would have a tough time keeping up. All of the work from this disc represents an unpretentious parameter of artists whose work is fully approachable without being commercial. It is a great overview of some of Lycia's work, some previously available while others were never available to the public before now.

The best way to really sum up Lycia is to equate the music with a museum masterpiece. The music, as well as the painted canvas, requires time to absorb, reflect and cogitate from various angles. Sadly, we have too many people today looking for the latest fad with a quarter beat who rarely stop to notice great art, painted or otherwise. Those who manage to go within themselves to understand where an artist's focus is coming from are more richly rewarded for the experience.

Projekt Records promises that this is only a first in a series of many more archived Lycia releases. If you haven't purchased a Lycia CD yet, you may want to start with this one since it is the latest as well as a flashback to the beginning of what became the benchmark for the gothic ethereal world.

Buy The Album
Buy Compilation Appearances Vol 1.

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