click here if you are having troubles navigating on our site
|The Burning Circle
And Then Dust
CD Album 2006 | Silber 048
18 tracks, 57 minutes
out of print
: Listen to the track Pray
: Press Release
A Presence In The Woods, Wandering Soul, The Dust Settles (Part 1), Sleepless, The Dust Settles (Part 2), The Return Of Nothing, The Dust Settles (Part 3), Pray, On The Horizon, Where Has All The Time Gone, Silence And Distance, Anywhere But Home, Slip Away, The Last Day, Nine Hours Later, Nimble, Resigned, Surrender
A package in the mail from
Silber is beginning to be quite a promising event! This time it’s the re-issued
and remastered version of Lycia’s The Burning Circle and Then Dust, the
second installment in the Lycia reissue series. The first noticeable difference
between the original pressing and this one is that we have one disc instead
of two. The second, related noticeable difference is that some songs are
missing. A whopping EIGHT songs. This could definitely have fans scratching
their heads, even running for the hills in disgust, but hardcore Lycia
fans — “In VanPortfleet We Trust” — will give it a listen. And they’ll
find this reissue is absolutely amazing!
Basically this is a remastered version of disc one of the original pressing, with some drum intros cut out — in hindsight, they did seem a bit unnecessary and the omission benefits the overall flow — and a few songs from the second disc salvaged. Don’t get me wrong, the songs that weren’t included on the disc are DEFINITELY missed. As the album is now though, knowing that this was the original vision of the band, it’s forgivable: The album is now a more solidified entity; a singular, natural progression. The songs that were salvaged from the second disc were some of the best off that particular disc (although they did not include “The Burning Circle,” which didn’t deserve to be axed.) You will still hear the inimitable mid-range, seductive wisp of Tara VanFlower (who seemed to take to a higher register after this album, strangely) on “Nimble” and “Surrender,” the former being one of my all-time favorite Lycia opuses. You will also hear the brilliant, bright “Nine Hours Later” and the reflective and somber “Resigned.”
What Mike VanPortfleet did to the overall sound is similar to how he remixed and remastered 1998’s Estrella album: A great wash of ’verb, a newfound warmth to the bass, and the vocals being pushed a bit back to blend — but somehow they’re much clearer than on the original version! Unreal.
So, Lycia fans, I understand how you could be skeptical. Please take my word for it, and the band’s too. Play both versions back to back, even. I almost guarantee you’ll be very very happy with this. By no means get rid of your original version, but this is as essential in your collection as any Lycia release. Every time I hear this, I feel like I’m floating along in the best place on earth. Not that I know where that is, but one thing’s for sure, this would be playing there.
~ Cody Maillet, Twoblock.net
For Silber records, it's
a dream come true. The label always wanted to release records from Lycia,
as the ambient-goth act has been a huge influence for Silber as well as
artists already on the roster. For those familiar with the label or those
artists, Lycia will be an excellent introduction and transition to one
of the standards of the style. And The Burning Circle is an essential work
from the band. If you were ever unhappy with the Cocteau Twin's less dark
ethereal rock, Lycia fills the void for sure. Only complaint is that Tara
Van Flower should have sang more. You know it.
~ Kenyon Hopkin, Advance Copy
This re-issue of The Burning
Circle combines the original two-disc release into a single CD. The
Album has been entirely re-mastered & the improvement in sound quality
is nothing short of amazing. Mike VanPortfleet took an already amazing
album & made its overall sound blend in perfectly with the rest of
the Lycia catalogue. If you own the original, you truly want to add
this reissued version to your collection. The boost in production
is heart wrenching, making this album be the perfect release it was originally
intended to be. A must have for all our readers.
~ Poseidon, Gothic Beauty
Silber Records has released
their second installment in the re-release of Lycia’s catalog. The Burning
Circle and Then Dust, originally released in 1995 as a double album, has
been released in 2006 as a single album, returning the disc to the original
vision of Mike VanPortfleet. This band’s long career ended in 1999, when
recording sessions unraveled. As Silber continues to re-release their albums,
the progression and change of their sound will become more and more obvious.
“A Presence in the Woods” starts of this 18 track disc with dark walls of sound and mid-tempo drums that are stripped down and serve to move the track through the ethereal guitar. VanPortfleet provides vox on this track. His vocals are breathy and very gothic. For me, they are a bit over the top. “Wandering Soul” begins with Slowdive style walls of sound and features VanPortfleet in a less dramatic light. This is a darkwave track pulses along, with gloomy singing and minor key walls of sound. The instrumentation is beautiful and lush. “The Dust Settles (Part 1)” is a bit of an interlude that is instrumental warbles into both speakers, painting ethereal landscapes. This leads into “Sleepless,” which has BanPortfleet at the vocal helm again as his voice sits amidst the swirling guitars. The track is slow tempo, giving it an almost sluggish feel, pulling the listener in. This is followed by “The Dust Settles (Part 2)” which gives the previous track’s music a more powerful mix, with more guitars and bass in the mix.
“The Return of Nothing” begins with pumping drums and is joined by bass and synth voices that float around. Again VanPortfleet sings in that over the top, posturing sort of gothic way. I guess it’s a style that I don’t particularly care for and don’t hear much anymore. The music is beautiful, as it is throughout the entire disc, I just wish that the vocals were absent on the majority of the songs. “The Dust Settles (Part 3)” is another great interlude. Guitars soar as the last interlude sets up the listener for the rest of the album. This is the longest of the three and is a wonderful instrumental piece. “Pray” begins with an eighties feel, with toms beating and OMD style keys mixed with great guitar work. VanPortfleet sings in a fashion that harkens back to My Bloody Valentine. The posturing is gone and he is just allowing his voice to come through, which is fantastic. This track really blows me away and I wish the rest of the disc was on this level.
“On the Horizon” has acoustic guitar over soaring notes sitting on percussion and flowing drones. This is a lush instrumental that also is what I would have loved from the rest of the previous tracks. “Where Has All the Time Gone” is a slow tempo tune that has wonderful vocals again. Sounding like the frontman to the Psychedelic Furs, VanPortfleet brings a familiar nostalgia in the mix of Slowdive style guitars. “Silence and Distance” has an ominous feel to it, bring in darker elements, but this is also one of the instrumentals that I really like on this disc. Lycia has the ability to communicate so much emotively through simply leaving words out and allowing their music to speak for itself. “Nine Hours Later” is another favorite track of mine. Boarding on a danceable darkwave, this track has its mix of pumping drums ala New Order with shoegaze guitars. Sixteen tracks into the disc, Tara VanFlower finally makes an appearance. Her angelic vocals echo amidst layers and layers of keys and piano. This song is beautiful and VanFlower makes it deep and airy. “Resigned” is a minimalistic ambient piece that is so gorgeous. Its melancholy soundscape is impressive in its simplicity. This explodes into a louder rendition with the vox deep in the mix. “Surrender” is approximately the same track as “Resigned” with VanFlower adding her ethereal vocals to the mix, which is turned up and more up front in the this final track.
For me, this album was a bit imbalanced, and I mean a bit. I like it for the most part. I only have a few things that would have made the experience much better. VanFlower would have brought something to the many of songs that VanPortfleet seemed to lack. Also, the front of the disc is far weaker then the second two-thirds. That said, this disc is far better and much more mature than Estrella.
~ Jason Lamoreaux, Somewhere Cold
Lycia is a very peculiar
group of musicians. The band's sound is similar to The Cocteau Twins...but
much more dark and spooky. The band is a pet project of Brian John Mitchell
(the mind behind the Silber label). Mitchell has taken on the task of releasing
and reissuing the band's music in the United States. Originally a double
album, The Burning Circle and Then Dust was shortened to fit on a single
CD for the re-mastered reissue. The album marked a turning point for the
band, as they began to focus their energies on more song-oriented music.
This eighteen track album is a challenging and peculiar spin. Dark, ethereal
tracks include "A Presence in the Woods," "The Return of Nothing," "Silence
and Distance," and "Surrender."
I never went for the gothy
shit…. Well except maybe that two week period in middle school that I don’t
like to talk about. Lycia gets past my prejudice against all things Goth
or dark. While they do share the dark packaging and creepy vocals, Lycia
is doing a lot more interesting things than the rest of their dark brethren
& sisters. VanPortfleet, Galas & Vanflower build up dense atmospherics
that hang in the air like fog on some forsaken moor.
The Burning Circle and the Dust was originally released in 1995 as a double disc on Projeckt Records. At that time, they added songs that were supposed to be a separate EP as the second disc. Now it has been remastered and edited back to its original length, as VanPortfleet wisely went with his original idea of the single disc.
Some of the vocals & drums sound a bit dated, not from the mid 90’s but from the late 80’s. The quality of the remastered record sounds great. I am probably not the best person to comment on this disc, I am not at all familiar with the artist or genre. I do find that this disc makes for some great late night listening.
~ Dan Cohoon, Amplitude Equals One Over Frequency Squared
It’s easy to be cynical
with regards to re-releases. Sure, a lot of albums benefit from new and
crisper audio quality, but in the back of your mind there’s always that
question. Is this just a cop-out of a release?
Lycia’s The Burning Circle and Then Dust is in no way a cop out, in fact on your first listen you may just wash away those cynical thoughts about re-masters altogether.
Silber owe a debt of honour to Lycia, the goth dark-wave group from Arizona. In fact on the website they pretty much decree that their love of great music and the want to start a record label is indebted to the band. And who can blame them?
Lycia has the brooding energy and romantic swoon of a three hundred year old vampire and while sadly departed in 1999, band member’s solo work (particularly founders Tara VanFlower and Mike VanPortfleet) continue in the post punk experimental vein that Lycia began. With this in mind it’s no wonder Silber are excited to re-release their 1995 album.
The Burning Circle and Then Dust is truly an album that has to be listened to from start to finish, its whimsical guitars and haunting atmospheric vocals combined with an early art rock use of synths craft a wave of songs that flow effortlessly and captivate you in doing so.
“A Presence in the Woods” begins the immersion of the listener with a collaboration of voice and instrument to produce an abyss of textures that you’ll be tenderly charmed into. A few tracks later “Wandering Soul” dances elegantly along, bringing subtle folk elements into the dark wave mix, albeit tormented variations of folk, more akin to apocalyptic subgenres then what many would recognise as falling within the pure field itself.
It’s hard to find a stand out track on such a large scale album, with many great songs gently grabbing your undivided attention each and every time, but “On the Horizon” is arguably a paramount point due to is brilliantly lucid guitar riff that sways from early dream pop sounds to pure dark wave. This combined with ghostly synth notes conjures an instrumentally passive moment in the eighteen track album and one filled with consistency.
“Silence and Distance” should also be mentioned as should “Nine Hours Later”: both are powerful tracks, classic both in sound and mood.
Clearly The Burning Circle and Then Dust is as potent an album now as it was back in 1995. An album bubbling over with haunting song after haunting song while showing early experimentations with sound that would become fleshed out subgenres in later years.
Fans of Goth, Dark wave, Post-punk and Art Rock need look no further then the mastery that was Lycia.
~ Michael Riley, Left Hip
Dark and cold weather on
the rocky coast, lightning strikes to light up the scene for a split second.
Revealing a scene of ruin and desolation. Whispering witchy male vocals
over abrasive/ethereal Cocteau Twinned smoke signals in the night. Cover
the windows and days blend effortlessly into endless night, the lights
are low and the feeling is numbed distance with deep pools of regret.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine
I was never a goth. Never
could go for it; the pretension and the fashion aspect just didn't really
make much sense. Plus, I never was cool enough to look like the ungrateful
dead, as make-up just never was my style. But the music--some of it was
impossible to resist, especially those that had elements of the esteemed
4AD label, or had a shoegazing/classical influence. Those artists, I couldn't
Lycia was one of those bands I kind of liked, but never really explored. I had friends who raved about their music, and I could understand why. Their sound was heavily reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins, but made by people who knew they couldn't be the Cocteau Twins. When you know you're not the band you love, you'll break free from the trap of imitators. Friends raved about their double disc opus The Burning Circle and Then Dust, saying it was a massive undertaking that was downright brilliant and utterly beautiful. Personally, I thought it was top-heavy.
Apparently, after ten years, so too did Lycia mastermind Mike VanPortfleet. As part of his continuing reissue series with Silber Media, he cleaned up this 1995 release, pairing it down to one disc and remastering it. Don't worry; you really won't miss songs like "Facade Fades" and "August, Pt. 1 and 2." Instead, what you'll find is a concise, bold darkwave album that's packed with mood, atmosphere, and melancholy. Yes, there's a hint of 4AD style throughout, but it doesn't overwhelm the music. (After all, for a time, Projekt seemed likely to be the next 4AD.) At eighteen tracks and nearly eighty minutes, The Burning Circle and Then Dust is still a hefty record, but there are plenty of jewels to be found. From the beginning notes of "A Presence in the Woods," it's obvious that the next hour and seventeen minutes will be quite disturbing. But you shouldn't fear it; after all, songs like "Silence then Distance" and "Anywhere But Home" and "On the Horizon" are downright gorgeous. VanPortfleet sings with a haunting, detatched voice, which highlights the bright, shimmering sheets of guitar love and pulsing bass that fills out these dark, moody numbers.
The two highlights are the wistful, sad "Where Has All the Time Gone," a gorgeous, reflective number that reminds me of The Death Of Cool-era Kitchens of Distinction, and "Pray," which is a gorgeous Britpop-flavored track that, at the time, should have given Lush and Pale Saints some stiff competition.
The Burning Circle and Then Dust was a grand statement, and it's still a grand statement. If you like your music dark and heavy and sad and melodic, then this record is made for you.
~ Joseph Kyle, Mundane Sounds
Mike VanPortfleet has taken
on an important task in that he has begun to remaster the standing catalogue
that is the legacy of Lycia. Lycia, as fans will know, is the serious
audio equivalent of disparity, as bleak as the darkest corner can get.
In the vast world of music, the world of ambient tones is as expressive
as it gets. VanPortfleet’s Lycia projects have explored those tonalities
as if they were the very flesh of emotion and therefore are made manifest
by their very musical nature. Some may question the reality of music
here but those that do is likely not in tune with themselves, preferring
only the manufactured strum of a guitar, the structured beat of a drum,
or the pretty vocals of skilled singers to the barrage of fear that is
inherent in Lycia’s tonal expressions.
Many of Lycia’s fans will have their favourites. Mine is the band’s very visceral Cold album, a title that is soon to be accorded the same remastering respect that has already been visited upon Estrella and now, The Burning Circle and Then Dust. This album, originally released by Projekt Records as a 2-album recording, has been restructured to an original core concept. When originally released, the band consisting of Mike VanPorfleet, David Galas, and vocalist, Tara Vanflower, had recorded additional songs resultant of good vibes in the studio. Those additional songs (10 in all) had been intended to be released separately but ultimately found their way into the collection of Burning Circle and Then Dust. For this revisitation, VanPortfleet desired to restore the potency of the original vision.
For the unknowing, Lycia conjures ambient collections of majestically cascading music, that is minimal yet effectively shocking in their presentation. With an unrelenting storm of tones and a barely discernable vocal, Lycia approximates the burgeoning of despair with all the subtlety of blows to the skull from the rounded curve of a ball-pean hammer. Pioneers such as Tangerine Dream helped create the sounds of electronic atmosphere but Lycia advanced it to the next 3 stages and have yet been unmatched in the realities the music conveys – dread, fear, and underlying depravity.
The remaster of The Burning Circle and Then Dust and the removal of the additional songs go a long way in effectively communicating the music to the ears as well as maintaining the structure of the entire piece. If you have heard Cold, an album that comes after Burning Circle, then you can appreciate the new core that makes up this re-release. The flow is now undisturbed by tracks that slip out of the element of the original vision of the album therefore leaving a perfection that is a hint of the coming remastered Cold album.
~ Matt Rowe, Music Tap
Apparently throwing any
semblance of chronological order to the wind, the second of Silber's Lycia
reissues jumps from the later Estrella back to the band's 1995 release,
The Burning Circle and Then Dust. Of all the reissues, The Burning Circle
and then Dust is likely to be the most controversial. It's not due to the
remastering quality or the altered artwork. Rather, it's due to the fact
that a whopping 8 tracks have been removed from the original double CD
to make this a single disc. Let's face it, despite the fact that it was
a band decision that returned the album to its original vision, cutting
tracks from a reissue is typically a bad idea, more so when said tracks
comprise nearly a third of the original release. For the record, the eight
missing tracks are "The Better Things to Come", "In the Fire and Flames",
"August (Part 1)", "August (Part 2)", "The Facade Fades", These Memories
Pass", "The Burning Circle", and "The New Day".
While what's missing here certainly deserves plenty of attention, so does what's included. The Burning Circle and Then Dust finds the band at something of a transitory stage, shedding the darkness of past albums but not yet reaching the full moody ethereality that would define their next. Rather, the disc, a fan favorite, is a somewhat poppier affair that serves as something of a precursor to Estrella. It also, notably, marks the band's first release featuring Tara Vanflower.
Drifting between multi-part instrumentals, songs featuring Mike Vanportfleet's trademark guttural whispers, and a couple songs featuring the more ethereal Tara Vanflower, The Burning Circle and then Dust is a diverse yet sonically consistent affair. Noteworthy songs include the powerful opener "A Presence in the Woods", the lovely, melodic "Sleepless", and the spacious Vanflower-fronted "Nimble" and "Surrender". However, it's the upbeat, bass-driven, single-worthy ethereal pop of "Pray", the similar but slightly simpler "Nine Hours Later", and the rhythmically interesting guitar-arpeggio-centric "Anywhere But Home" that truly steal the show.
While this album is worth picking up, particularly for its very nicely remastered sonic clarity and glimpse into the band's original artistic vision for the album, long-time fans will certainly want to hold onto their original double disc Projekt issues. The omission of the missing tracks is artistically understandable, but they really should have at least been included as a bonus EP of sorts. Still, despite its flaws, it's a strong presentation of the landmark album that shed Lycia's past and foreshadowed their future.
~ Joshua Heinrich, Grave Concerns
Returning home from a long
winter walk along the country side, putting the heather a little higher
and have a hot choco with some rum or whisky. That is the same sensation
you get while listening to Lycia, A warm comfortable languor comes over
you like a blanket. Wide guitars with a lot of delay and reverb will fill
your room like a thick and soft carpet. Lycia don’t need much introduction
while they have earned their fame already long ago. This is a re-release
then which saw the light of day for ten years ago. “The Burning Circle
And Then Dust” was originally released as a double disc on Sam Rosenthal’s
Project label but is now released as a single disc on Silber records. Lycia
is top of the bill Darkwave and this CD contains just good songs. There
for I can recommend this to everyone who likes Darkwave, nice and
slow warm sounding ethereal rock. The spectacle “Ionia” is
not to be surpassed while that record makes you really drown in a sea of
delay, and that is what makes “Ionia” also attractive to people who like
post rock. On “The Burning Circle…” it is all more “regular” rock and that
makes it also suitable for a less gothic orientated audience. Well,
it is no wonder this fabulous CD is being re-released so new people
can take notice of this classic work.
~ Remco, Gothtronic
I was talking with an elder
at my church a few weeks ago about our shared affinity for the sort of
gloomy post-punk that only the 1980s seemed capable of producing. I'm referring
to bands such as The Cure (whose output during that decade is, in my opinion,
almost entirely unrivalled), New Order, and Joy Division, but also Josef
K, The Durutti Column, and many others. It seems like much of that music
died off by the time the 1990s rolled around, with grunge and its ilk coming
along to assuage the angst of teens everywhere.
However, the truth is that the sort of gloomy, atmospheric post-punk that we all knew and loved never really died. It simply went underground. There, bands such as Lycia (pronounced "lie-see-uh") took the genre — if it could even be considered a genre — even further.
If you want to pick nits, I find it difficult to really label the songs on The Burning Circle And Then Dust "goth" (which Lycia and so many of their contemporaries are often labelled), due mainly to the amazing amounts of atmosphere that Mike VanPortfleet, David Galas, and Tara Vanflower pack into these songs. The result is a sometimes claustrophobic and overwhelming album that, like much of Lycia's music, embodies nearly every stereotype that comes to mind when thinking of "goth/darkwave/etc.", and then just easily transcends them again and again.
Originally a two-disc release on Projekt Records, VanPortfleet chose to pare this re-release down to a mere 18(!) songs, as had been the original plan. This is probably a good thing (it could be argued that the disc could stand even a bit more trimming, as there are several short tracks that seem like nothing more than filler). Although Lycia's music is clearly not a one-trick pony, a fact that becomes even more apparent upon a closer listen, the prevailing tone of the album, as well the various synth and guitar effects that VanPortfleet et al. use, does lead to a certain monotony.
Many of the songs follow a similar progression, usually beginning with murky synths and spiralling, ice-laced guitars immediately looming over the listener in a rather bombastic fashion, while cold, clunky drum machines pound away in the song's center. Then, VanPortfleet's snarling whispers come drifting around from the edges, like a cold winter wind sweeping across isolated spaces.
Like many of Lycia's peers in the darkwave circles, there is certainly some pretense to their music. But unlike so many similar artists, which often stike up a theatrical pose that at best seems fake and at worst is just plain silly, the intensity that VanPortfleet et al. brings to these songs does lend them a certain amount of conviction. There certainly isn't a lot of subtlety to the group's music, due to the singular mindset that they bring to so many of the songs on the disc. However, that singular mindset and sense of focus actually allows the songs to achieve the epic sense of gloominess and despair towards which VanPortfleet and his cohorts constantly aspire.
Of course, it's not all doom and gloom. Well, it is, but while VanPortfleet is clearly intent on pursuing a very particular sound as far as he can, there is some variety that can surprise the listener. Compared to the rest of the disc, it's surprising just how catchy, and even dancey, a song like "Pray" is. That is, if you consider songs like The Cure's "Pictures Of You" and "Fascination Street" to be catchy. Like The Cure, Lycia obviously love their melodic, surging basslines, and David Galas makes use of them time and again, providing a sense of momentum and melody that pushes the songs forward where they would otherwise be lost amidst all of the swirling guitars and mopey synths.
While Lycia is most obviously indebted to the likes of The Cure and Joy Division — you can practically hear spectres of Ian Curtis' voice during the opening seconds of "The Dust Settles (Part 3)" — there's also a clear, if somewhat predictable, 4AD influence. The shimmering guitars cast a Heaven Or Las Vegas-like glow over "Where As All The Time Gone?". Of course, once VanPortfleet's whisper comes drifting in, that glow becomes something altogether darker and more insidious, far from the exultatory tones of the Cocteau Twins album.
The disc's finest moments come towards the end, when VanPortfleet's voice is join by Tara VanFlower's. Foreshadowing her more ambient work on My Little Fire-Filled Heart and This Womb Like Liquid Honey, "Nimble" eschews the wiry, sinister guitars that lace through so much of the album for layers of VanFlower's angelic voice and silvery, starlit synths. While the song is as melancholy as anything else on the album, there is a certain yearning and fragility to the song that allows some measure of light into the band's shadowy world.
The disc's closer, "Surrender", continues the sorrowful theme begun in the previous track "Resigned". Here, VanFlower's clear voice echoes and parallels VanPortfleet's desperate whisper on "Resigned", as if she's the angel promising salvation to his tortured soul. Whereas "Resigned" lives up to its title, with wilting synths and VanPortfleet's vocals, threatening to pull the listener down into some bleak, lonely place, "Surrender" seems to hint towards a way out and up. The song unfolds at an almost orchestral pace, with VanFlower's inscrutable voice bathed in the light of the choir-like synths all around her. It's just as foreboding as the rest of the album, but like "Nimble", there is ultimately a yearning that belies the darkness of the track, and allows the album to end on at least some note of consolation.
I suppose all of that may sound somewhat silly, as if I've bought into the theatrics of Lycia's music. But trust me, spend enough time in Lycia's world, and you may begin to see things the way they do. Sorrow, angst, and depression aren't just things to fuel bad high school poetry. In Lycia's arcane world, they become real and tangible aspects of reality, almost palpable in their presence. If you're in the right mindset, encountering their singular vision can be a rather overwhelming and consuming experience. If you're not, well... there's always something else that can speak to your angst.
Personally, I'll take Lycia's dated, bombastic, pretentious, overwrought music — whispers and all — any day of the week.
~ Jason Morehead, Opus
Original released eleven
years ago as a two disc album on Projekt Records, Silber and Lycia’s Mike
VanPortfleet have re-released and re-mastered the bands third and quite
seminal record ‘The Burning Circle and then Dust.’
For me I’ve always enjoyed this recording and the bands fantastic follow-up album ‘Cold’ the best. However one of the things that always made The Burning Circle somewhat of a chore to get through was the length of the recording as the first disc was quite long and then there was a second disc with eight additional songs. This re-release omits those eight extra songs and leaves the listener with just the original first disc, which is as Mike has said, is the way he originally wanted the album to be anyway. This album marked the first partnership Mike made with David Galas and Tara VanFlower, as well it was with this album that the tracks started sounding actually more song oriented rather than just the dark atmospheric pieces that had been seen on the previous recordings.
This album features such highlights as ‘A Presence in the Woods,’ ‘The Return of Nothing,’ ‘Pray’ and many more stunning songs to boot. The Burning Circle like most other Lycia releases features the synths really standing out; always sounding very beautiful, soaring, and majestic, sometimes creepy and mysterious, and even a little somber at times. Plus the acoustic guitars and vocal deliveries are so well done, and often times the chorus’ become stuck in your head after listening.
As far as the re-mastering is concerned I can’t comment on it to much since I haven’t listened to the original version in quite some years. However after a friend pointed this out to me I did notice at times the cymbal percussion is a little too loud, and when listened through headphones it can be a tad annoying, but nothing major. So I can’t really justify whether it’s worth re-buying again or not but one thing is for sure and that is this is one of Lycia’s finest and certainly a crowned gem in the Darkwave genre.
~ Joe Mlodik, Lunar Hypnosis
With atmospheres that rise
to power and falter ever so calmly, The Burning Circle and Then Dust (apparently
originally released in 1995) will be an album to remember: extremely melancholic,
with an occasional glorious harmony that will make you feel like you are
drowning in an ocean of cosmic understanding; a wall of sound that has
such a great effect upon the listener as to bring tears to the eye.
In all seriousness, the often mystical audio of this album is surpassed only by its tendency to pass into an even more brooding section. The audio is severely saturated in reverberation and delay, which causes a thicker, smoother – but less clear – sound. This makes changes harder to pick out throughout the songs. A lot of the rhythms consist of both an acoustic strumming, and a distorted electric along with it. The rhythms are not particularly technical, and a lot of the music is pretty down-tempo. The rhythm guitars also become difficult to hear when the massive keyboard elements break into the mix. They encompass all aspects of the stereo – left, right, and center – and possibly may even be expanded beyond that.
Sometimes soft, sometimes gruff, the vocals are a great match to the music, bringing about their own unique impressions. They barely penetrate the sound – just enough to be heard, and nothing more, but it is so effective in being so inaudible! The mortal lines of the low-ranged vocalist add to the atmosphere with a touch of humanity. In a word, this album is simply spellbinding.
~ Roberto Martinell, Maelstrom
Lycia is now enjoying a
bit of a comeback, as Silber Records decided to reissue their entire back
catalogue. The question is whether there are enough Goth fans who
will still appreciate Lycia's dark pop vision? When initially released
just over a decade ago, to some this was one of Lycia's best works to date,
while others ignored this album altogether. What's missing from the
reissue are 8 tracks that were on the original double CD release.
[Believe it or not, these are tracks the band had a say in editing out
themselves.] As to the sound of the Arizona trio, they're a mixture
of a more laid back, more hazy Cocteau Twins and a slowed down, nearly
instrumental Lush. Tara Vanflower delivers a few vocal tracks.
Due to her shear and soothing vocals, "Nimble" turns out to be a real stand-out.
Honestly, I wish she were featured more. Mike VanPortfleet and David
Galas on various bass, guitars, and synths shape an atmosphere full of
fleeting echo-chambers, dark corners of limpid light and all around ghostly
imagery. This isn't Goth music in its usual sense of the word.
Sure, it's ominous but the sounds are not overtly crushing. Lycia's
music is not overbearingly black. There are too many shades of grey
that make it all the more interesting.
~ Tom Sekowski, Gaz-eta
Originally released in 1995
as a 2-CD set on the Projeckt Records label, The Burning Circle and then
Dust is the second in the Silber Records Lycia reissue series. According
to the promo sheet, truncating the set down to a single disc for the reissue
was the decision of Lycia honcho Mike VanPortfleet, who did the remastering.
Cocteau Twins seem to be a common analogy in Lycia reviews, though I'm admittedly clueless about that band. Darkwave/Goth is the general category you could stick Lycia in if you wanted to pigeonhole them, though I think they've got a lot more happening in their music than most of what I've heard from that genre. Several of the songs struck me as being like Goth renditions of The Legendary Pink Dots.
The opening tracks, "A Presence in the Woods" and "Wandering Soul", set the tone for the album with their symphonic backdrop augmented by light acoustic guitar and percussion, along with VanPortfleet's eerie vocals. The music is intense and foreboding, but at the same time dreamy and atmospheric and includes simple but very pleasant melodies. Other highlights in this 18 track set include "The Return of Nothing", which has a seductive melody and beautiful floating vibe built around a kind of drugged carnival like theme. I love the guitar licks on "On the Horizon", where simplicity reigns but the brushstrokes are oh so masterful. "Silence and Distance" is one of my favorite tracks, being a deep space instrumental with cosmic symphonics and effects. "Slip Away" is another favorite and best exemplifies the full Lycia wall of symphonic sound that wraps itself so fully around you. Listening with headphones the music just filled my entire head and I could feel it all the way down to my feet. "Resigned" is another excellent track, being more sparse and subtle than most of the album, but has one of the most purely spacey and angelic sounds of the set. Very nice. The promo sheet notes that this album was the first collaboration between VanPortfleet and Tara Vanflower & David Galas. I had actually forgotten about Vanflower until near the end of the album when her vocals appeared on "Nimble".
I don't hear any of the synth-pop elements I described in my review of Lycia's Empty Spaces album (see AI #26). The Burning Circle and then Dust is much more like the spacey, dreamy symphonics of Estrella (see AI #31), which are far more to my liking. A beautiful album.
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
For me the name Lycia rings
bells of earlier days, when I spend my days inside a record store, which
used to carry Lycia. I do recall they were on labels such as Projekt and
Hyperium, and in general their darker than dark pop-music was not well
spent on me. Apparently a lot of their older stuff is sold out, reason
enough for Silber Records to re-issue five of their albums, and this 'The
Burning Circle And Then Dust' is the second. It dates back from 1995 and
Lycia was then a three piece group (well, perhaps they still are, as I'm
clueless where they are now), of Mike VanPortfleet (guitars, vocals, synth
and drum programs), David Galas (bass, synth, drumprograms, audioengineering),
and Tara Vanflower on vocals. Much water has passed under the bridge, since
my stubborn 'no' to this kind of music, and I even started playing many
records by The Cure and Cocteau Twins since some time (which no doubt is
an age thing), so perhaps I am looking differently to this kind of music
now. Actually I do. I don't dislike it as much as I expected when I started
playing this, and I can see the quality of the music. It's not bad indeed,
but to be very honest I prefer 'Pornography' by The Cure over this Lycia,
even when it has similar heavy rhythms, similar tons of reverb on the guitar
and doomed vocals. It's not bad indeed, but with my small Cure and Cocteau
Twins collection, I think I have enough.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
L’histoire de cet album
est assez peu commune. Au départ (en 1994), prévu comme un
seul CD, c’est finalement (en 1995) un double CD qui voit le jour avec
de nombreux morceaux venant s’ajouter au moment de la finalisation. Un
album puissant et profond, qui puise sa force dans son côté
linéaire puisqu’il parvient à nous tirer à lui, au
cœur de son atmosphère semi dark-wave, semi post-rock, grâce
à des titres teintés de guitares electro-acoustique, de basse
et nappes électriques typées Cocteau Twins, de claviers planants
et de ces voix (masculine et féminine) en retrait qui viennent subtilement
souligner le tout. Et puis, au début de cette année, alors
que Silber Records annonçait vouloir rééditer les
5 albums studio du groupe, on reçoit "The Burning Circle And Then
Dust" sous un format condensé n’incluant que les meilleurs morceaux.
Le double CD est redevenu un. Retour au source ? Pas si anodin en tous
cas lorsqu’on sait que ce bijou marque un tournant musical dans la carrière
de Lycia notamment avec les premiers travaux réalisés en
collaboration avec David Galas et Tara Vanflower. A recommander à
ceux qui ne connaîtraient pas encore les délicieux effets
pathogènes du groupe, à recommander aux conquis qui trouveront
alors le nectar à incorporer à leur discothèque complète
~ Dawn, From Dusk Till Dawn
Silber reedita en cd "The
Burning Circle And Then Dust" uno de los primeros trabajos de Lycia, la
banda compuesta por David Galas, Tara Vanflower y Mike VanPortfleet. Publicado
como disco doble en 1995 por Projekt, su quinto disco de estudio contenía
–y contiene– bellezas de la talla de "Pray", "Nimble" o "Surrender".
~ Mikel Herrero, Decadence Online