REVIEW: LUNATIC SOUL – “Fractured”
There are artists who choose to make music because it’s their calling. It comes from their core and they have the burning desire to create something that will ignite our imagination, confront our fears and make us dream of sonic landscapes that only exist in our mind. This is exactly what Lunatic Soul is for Mariusz Duda the singer and bass player of Polish progressive rock outfit Riverside. The last Lunatic Soul album ‘Walking On a Flashlight Beam’ was a dark journey into the world of solitude and disengagement with the outside world, it also gave Mariusz an outlet to explore his artistry in electronic, ambient and sound design textures. In 2016 Mariusz experienced tragedy in his personal life losing his bandmate and guitar player of Riverside Piotr Grudziński, this prompted him to make a new Lunatic Soul album that could heal his own personal pain and send a clear massage of how we can all overcome difficult times.
‘Fractured’ is the title of the latest Lunatic Soul album, the artwork reveals a cracked glass with a deep red colour backdrop suggesting the music could be intense and impactful. The Kscope label will release the album on October the 6th and for fans of Riverside and Lunatic Soul this album continues the trend of Mariusz pushing musical boundaries and taking the listener on a mystical and reflective journey.
The opening song of Fractured, “Blood on a Tightrope” has a hypnotic rhythm using didgeridoo like sounds and builds up with intense drums and electronic soundscapes, it’s an emotional introduction and promises much to come on this album. Next track “Anymore” is a real departure from Mariusz’s rock roots, in this song he experiments with minimal instrumentation and creates an almost prog/pop hybrid that could easily be part Mike Oldfield part Timbaland; the lyrics imply a break in communication with someone who he cares for, this is especially noticeable when he sings “Want to share my innermost desires, you don’t talk to me anymore”.
“Crumbling Teeth and Owl Eyes” returns to more familiar progressive territory and it’s likely to please Riverside fans. It also uses shades of light and darkness with a beautiful orchestra moving the composition along. “Red Light Escape” is one of the highlight songs on Fractured with its claustrophobic beat, gloomy Vangelis echoing synths and a spell bounding bass line from Mariusz all wrapped up with a Kamasi Washington like saxophone whisper, delivered by Marcin Odyniec; the song’s subject matter returns to the isolation and the feeling there is no escape which he so expressively carried us through in Walking on a Flashlight Beam.
The title song is instrumentally sophisticated and would complement the soundtrack of the most nefarious crime drama TV series. “A Thousand Shards of Heaven” is the most fragile composition, it starts of as an acoustic guitar ballad and half way turns into a complex psychedelic haze and gloomy King Crimson jazz fusion like composition, again rounded off by Odyniec’s sax wailing, the lyrics deal with the struggle of overcoming difficult times and they are the most personal lyrics on the album as Mariusz sings in his emotional voice: “I want to know what it’s like when sorrow turns into strength”.
“Battlefield” is a slow tempo track that almost feels like a prophecy warning us that we are on the precipice of something big, this is evident towards the end of the composition when Mariusz poetically sings: “and the broken hearts will not break through my mind” and leads his synth marching off to combat. The closing song on the album “Moving On” is a sombre tune and lyrically reflects a world that is divided. The music itself sums up Mariusz’ sonic imagination and clearly shows his love of 90’s trip hop and 80’s synth pop and new wave music.
Lunatic Soul is still a humble project that Mariusz Duda has birthed and is a real labour of love; having never toured live with Lunatic Soul material he uses the side project as a another musical outlet to express himself in a completely boundless way. The music is spiritual and deeply moving just like his core and enthralling progressive rock band Riverside. ‘Fractured’ is more than accessible and a good introduction point for anyone who has not heard the music of Lunatic Soul before. Be your own critic but if there’s one album you should not pass on this year it’s ‘Fractured’.