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Lycia | Empty Space (Silber)
This is the sound of a band falling apart and sounding comfortable watching it happen. Lycia spent the nineties as one of the most overlooked yet influential post-punk resurrectors, until they disbanded during the 1999 recordings for this album (only to reform two years ago, with a different line-up), ensuring that 'Empty Space' has been left unfinished and unreleased until now. 'Empty Space' obviously suffers from the fact that it wasn't actually completed by the band, but it still holds up pretty well. Somehow the aborted making of the album, and the band's eventual dissolution, perfectly underlines the Lycia sound: dark, casual and ambivalently melodical, as if they aren't sure whether they're actually allowed to sing these glorious melodies of theirs, when they should've been darker, more harrowing, and graver.
'Empty Space' is undoubtedly Lycia's most accessible work, and there are some great tracks on here: in particular the ramshackle drones of Not Here, Not Anywhere and Persephone, on which the band betrays its roots as the angelic version of Joy Division. Elsewhere, though, and in particular on the most obviously unfinished instrumentals (Fur & Thistle and The Long Drive), Lycia crafts half-finished ideas, like some early 'Tubular Bells' demos best left forgotten. Single moments aside, 'Empty Space' gives only a vague idea of what Lycia could have achieved had they stayed together long enough to wrap this one up, and the album as a whole is all the more mysterious yet unsatisfying because of it.

Stein Haukland
March-April 2004

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