Compilation Appearances, Vol. 2

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Continuing the planned series of releases collecting rarities and unreleased work, Compilation Appearances, Vol. 2 is subtitled "The Ohio Years," reflecting Vanportfleet and company's move to that state, and covers tracks from 1995 to 1999. As with the first volume, there is no one overall mood or atmosphere, reflecting the multiple interests of the group and the varying nature of the projects and compilations they contributed to. The fact that not one but two Christmas carols appear shows that much -- both originally from the seasonal Excelsis collections on Projekt, "We Three Kings" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" receive thrilling, mysterious reworkings. Turning the former into what almost sounds like a majestic death march, Vanportfleet starts with just himself and minimal backing before launching into a classically lush Lycia arrangement, echo-heavy and haunting. There's also one other cover, and a striking one it is -- "In a Lonely Place," one of the last songs Joy Division wrote before Ian Curtis' death, given an absolutely mesmerizing rendition by Galas and Vanportfleet, a true tribute without being a note-for-note recreation. Opening track "This Brilliant Nightmare" is actually a solo project from Galas, Snowblind, with Vanportfleet singing over a lush, dark synth string orchestration, an attractive combination unlike Lycia's regular work due to the lack of guitars and beats. Other spin-off Lycia groups represented include Estraya, whose "Caterpillar Butterfly," sung by Vanflower, is an early take on the song "Estrella" itself, and the near-white noise "Dome," recorded by Vanportfleet solo as a potential follow-up to his Bleak solo effort. Other cuts of note include two live songs recorded at the Projekt label's 1996 Chicago festival and a variety of outtakes from Estrella planned for a separate release as the El Diablo EP. In all, this welcome release perfectly complements the earlier volume, sure to satisfy fans of Lycia's gloomy, uncompromised art.

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