Lunatic Soul: Walking on a Flashlight Beam (Special Edition CD/DVD)
For those of you unfamiliar with this band, Lunatic Soul is the solo project of Riverside's front man Mariusz Duda. Walking on a Flashlight Beam is his latest offering, his fourth album without his Riverside bandmates. I thought his debut, released in 2008, was excellent. I somehow lost track of the band, that is until Walking on a Flashlight Beam arrived in my mailbox.
On the album, Duda (vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, ukulele, keyboards, percussion) is once again joined by Indukti drummer Wawrzyniec Dramowicz.
Before I go any further I have to say this is a wonderful piece of music. If you have heard Riverside you will know how versatile Duda is as a singer. Whether aggressive or passive, his voice is a perfect fit for the band. Similarly, his vocals in Lunatic Soul fit the music like a glove. Here he prefers a laidback plaintive style that is as gripping as it is beautiful. I absolutely love his voice throughout the disc. His sense of melody goes down so well and his melancholic tone is just about perfect. The music is dark and atmospheric and is enhanced greatly from the use of samples, effects and electronics. The songs build slowly, with oft repeating elements, allowing the notes to burn into ones brain and the results are simply stunning. At times I was reminded of the bands Katatonia and Anathema.
In the album opening "Shutting Out the Sun" it is all about the build as the repeating keyboard notes and blankets of textural guitar produces an hypnotic effect. As is so often the case with this album the spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves creating dramatic tension and a brooding intensity. In "Cold" a pulsating drumbeat, ethereal keys and Duda's forlorn vocals create a unique and ghostly soundscape. "Gutter" has a Middle Eastern tone and once again the instrumentation builds slowly and although this isn't heavy per se, there is certainly a denseness to the sound. The dreamy background vocals are like icing on the cake.
One of my favourite tunes is the twelve minute "Pygmalion's Ladder" where repeating motifs settle in before darker textures of fuzzy guitar and thick bass lines permeate the sound. The music ebbs and flows between heavy and soft before pretty acoustic guitar and dreamy keyboards give way to a heavier soundscape of stark intensity.
The special edition comes with a DVD titled In Between. Insights into the recording process, writing lyrics, the differences playing in Lunatic Soul and Riverside and the concept behind Walking on a Flashlight Beam are examined. It's an interesting documentary that should appeal to fans of either band.
The artwork and hard cover digipack, done by Travis Smith, is stunning as well with the photos and graphics capturing the music's brooding nature.
There is no other musician around right now who creates tension and the feeling of stark isolation quite like Duda and his latest album is a shining example. Walking on a Flashlight Beam is brooding art rock done with a masterful nuance and careful song craft that few are able to achieve. A near masterpiece.
1. Shutting Out the Sun
4. Stars Sellotaped
5. The Fear Within
7. Pygmalion's Ladder
8. Sky Drawn In Crayon
9. Walking On A Flashlight Beam
1. In Between Documentary
2. Teaser Video I
3. Teaser Video II
Added: January 19th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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