[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
People will remember this album as the one where Lycia revealed their true range and realized their full potential. With the return of David Galas to the fold, the band have picked right back up where they left off 20 years ago with ‘The Burning Circle and Then Dust’. All of their facets are on display and are honed down to a fine point. Yes, you have the slower pieces which have always been their calling card but by the time you hit the third track it becomes obvious that this is a different kind of Lycia record.
There’s a heavier feel to what is going on here, some of these songs threaten to explode from sheer intensity and if you’re wondering just how it is that this not only is menacing but also meditative you aren’t alone. I’ve been trying to reconcile these two polar opposites in their sound for as long as I’ve been listening and I still cannot. This isn’t the first time they’ve had David back in Lycia either. As the previous millennium burned down he, along with Tara, Mike and John Fair completed an album called ‘Empty Space’ that didn’t see release until 2003 and remains critically overlooked in the band’s discography. It’s worth the effort required to find a copy, just trust me on this.
Everyone on ‘A Line That Connects’ has put out solo work in the interim also. David has three albums, Tara two and Mike naturally only has one. He also has a stand alone release entitled ‘The King of The Tundra’… dare you to find a copy.
Back to cases. Greater care has been taken to pull every single note and nuance out of the masters than ever before. Some people will no doubt clamor for a vinyl release, I want a 5.1 dolby surround version because there is such amazing clarity already so why not go all the way. It probably won’t happen but to get a record as diverse as this one is rare; where did some of these pieces come from!? It’s enough to fry the synapses. All of the experience they have gained over these last two decades is compressed onto a single release, there’s enough varience in styles throughout ‘A Line That Connects’ to satisfy even the most demanding of fans. Curtly enchanting songs like “The Rain” even put Galas on lead vocals. In just over three minutes I simultaneously want to dance, sneer and shake my fist at the world… what the hell.
This isn’t something I expected from them. Mike’s guitar is a pyrotechnic firestorm soaring all across their latest release and his own words cut deep into the flesh, going all the way through until they hit the marrow. Tara has the best lines on here, however:
“Where did you all go/Don’t let time touch me.” It really makes you think and it’s a question they have asked again and again. Either with Mike wondering where all the time has gone or on a song such as “Autumn Moon” where David paints a picture of flickering candles in the autumn wind. For myself the only thing I’d add is that I, too, would like to know where many of the people who used to listen to this band have wandered off to. An album this strong is made for singles, these tunes are what you should be hearing on the radio and not the branded formulas of fearful suits with their withered ideals and dead hearts.
We even get songs that are clearly drawn from their Bleak side-project; “Illuminate” returns us to the land of ‘Vane’ and amps up the cold contempt ten fold. Against a backdrop of what sound like watch springs snapping and a merciless, hammering rhythm Lycia drop the niceties to expose an angrier,almost violent side to themselves. The contempt one accrues for humanity working retail is what I’m picking up on most acutely and it feels like home to me. I know they’ll never do another album as Bleak but back when they were planning one there was talk of covering Big Black’s “Kerosene”.
Gentlemen. Please make this happen.
And please keep this lineup, I’m begging you. You three have made the album of your lives here but it’s just the beginning. Only the truly inspired can manage to surprise this far into their career. Lycia are approaching 30 years and this is album 10. I cannot get these words out of my head, nor will the music leave. “There’s a line… that connects… time and place…”