Lycia – Estrella (1998)

Lycia-EstrellaNow THIS is more like it! Where Cold was, umm, cold, Estrella is, well, it’s cold as well, but in a much more interesting way, more along the lines of The Burning Circle and Then Dust, and the two Tara tracks off Cold. It’s probably no coincidence then that Tara takes on most of the vocal duties here. Most of the songs attain a majestic, if a little disturbing and creepy, glory, marked by the usual Lycia imprints of haunting swirls and scorching guitar.

A satisfying fullness of sound and melody permeates every stark corner and half-forgotten wasteland, delivering the music of the stars. As if tapping into some ancient memory of archaic tribal rituals, “El Diablo” and the wordless “Tongues” raise the hairs on the back of your neck, in true Lisa Gerrard fashion as they weave exotic mosaics of utterly mesmerizing sound. You often have the sense of overload, as if staring into a bright light, but once overcoming the relative austerity of the surroundings you can clear away the fog and impending doom to marvel at the remarkable sights. “The Canal” creates another wordless, repetitive groove, a dramatic incantation summoning unknown powers from across the universe.

I once witnessed Trance To The Sun perform something like this, and it was both unsettling and rapturous. This album, and Lycia in general, demands volume to do them justice. And if the surroundings become a little too ominous, “Estrella” and “Silver Sliver” lighten the load by sounding uncharacteristically upbeat and beautiful in a much brighter and less demanding sense. Lycia made a smart move on this album. Tara’s voice is perfectly suited to the music, and the regained melodic content and more exotic flair now and then etch themselves firmly in your subconscious without becoming irritating. Estrella is a remarkable feat of balance.

Lycia’s Estrella gets 4 out of 5 stars.

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