Review Summary: Today is the very last time... Goodbye.
Lycia is one of those bands you discover through sputnikmusic. I personally never heard of them outside of this site and that is a shame. A Day in the Stark Corner alone seemed to have influenced Nine Inch Nails
"The Downward Spiral" at least according to Trent Reznor himself. The album itself was released in 1993, a year before Trent Reznor would release his magnum opus "The Downward Spiral".
Although, both are depressing albums that are reminiscent of that of The Cure
"Pornography", "A Day in the Stark Corner" to put it blatantly makes both The Cure "Pornography" and Nine Inch Nails "The Downward Spiral" look like the Disney version of the Grimm fairy tales. That is to say, this album is much more depressing and definitely creates a more menacing atmosphere than both of the albums combined. Dealing with subjects such as suicide and longing more in-depth than “The Downward Spiral”. This is obviously not recommended for people wanting to get into ambient or darkwave music right away. The sadness itself can be overwhelming for a few people.
The album "A Day in the Stark Corner" gets its melancholic atmosphere from only being recorded on a 4-track. This contributes to the lack of the clarity of the vocals of Mike VanPortflee, the lead singer and the main person behind Lycia. As soon as you listen to "And Through The Smoke And Nails", you are overloaded with this high-pitched synth that creates the depressing tone of the song. Next are the first lyrics that really cannot be made out on the first listen of the song without looking up the lyrics. The lyrics of "And Through The Smoke And Nails" seems to be about suicide and killing of oneself from my own interpretation of the lyrics.
The album itself does encompass some of the same ideas of the two albums brought up in the introduction of this review. Both "The Downward Spiral" and "Pornography" seem to briefly mention some sort of woman or person in which the singer is moving on past or longing to be with again. This is the case for about most of A Day in the Stark Corner past the ambient instrumental "Pygmallion". Her name apparently is Daphne but this is not necessary a cliche breakup album. It is similar to longing or a saudade, an intense ennui in which one feels strong nostalgia for the past that it makes them sad. The overall tone of the album seems to be wrapped around this concept of sadness. Only she can bring the singer to peace.
The middle of the album definitely captures the feelings of saudade through the songs "Wide Open Spaces" and "The Morning Breaks So Cold And Gray", this sets up the mood of the last part of the album being about her, being about this Daphne that the singer is fixated on. The last quarter of the album seems to have a Dead Can Dance Within The Realm of a Dying Sun era sound to it. That is in my opinion the only thing I can really compare it to when I hear the 3 or 4 songs of this album.
It is more explicitly stated that this singer longs to be with her again, to be with Daphne, how he misses her. How it feels like she is so close yet so far away. This is true sorrow; this is the worst type of ennui; a saudade that sucks you in every listen from start to end; a saudade that a lot of people can relate to. Some people long for the past so bad that they experience a saudade as that of what is expressed in "A Day in the Stark Corner", the darkwave/ambient masterpiece released by Lycia.
Key Tracks (or at least my favorites):
And Through The Smoke And Nails
Wide Open Spaces
The Morning Breaks So Cold and Gray
The Remnants And The Ruins
Goddess Of The Green Fields
Everything Is Cold
Sorrow Is Her Name
Pretty much this whole album is breathtaking.