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Lunatic Soul: Fractured

The journey towards Fractured has been as splintered and shattering as its name suggests, Riverside frontman Mariusz Duda not only dealing with the tragic death of his main band's guitarist, Piotr Grudzinski, but also that of his father. In truth, while that emotional journey is writ large across the clever, insightful and honest lyrics right across this album, with Duda never the most overtly cheerful soul in his music, the sorrow isn't any more apparent than before. Don't in any way take that comment as a detraction, Duda being one of the most skilled and confident exponents of music that can lift the spirits while still dampening the mood; Fractured is another sublime example.

Where things may be slightly less expected is through the surprising lack of departure from the 'day job' this time round. Yes, the less guitar focused approach does set a slightly different tone, but with gentle use of electronics to convey this album's message, there is a similarity between Fractured and the recent stop-gap outing from Riverside, Eye Of The Soundscape. And with Duda's beautiful considered drawl and whispers coming from a place that no other vocalist seems able to mine, it can at times be hard differentiating - at least in some places. However with the Polish Sinfonietta Consonus Orchestra interjecting subtly into the likes of "Crumbling Teeth And The Owl Eyes", some new flavours are added to the gentle caress of melancholy. With an understated guitar solo also sliding sublimely into place, it's a song of gentle contrast and subtle shifts.

A stunning twin vocal on the equally and expertly string infused "A Thousand Shards Of Heaven" soothes the piece into being a undoubted triumph, bass pedals and electronic percussion adding to the air of disconnection and despair. However, through the opening synth-voice and slow building snare marches of "Blood On The Tightrope", a more obviously energetic - if hardly galloping - atmosphere can also be experienced. It's an effective introduction to the album, although with the song's earlier exchanges being possibly most Riverside like in tone, maybe one that sets an unfortunate mood; although there's no denying it's captivating intent. The melodic yet mercurial "Red Light Escape" brings some warm light to the gloom, a Pineapple Thief meets Steven Wilson vibe playing out as saxophone adds some new notes and intentions in a way that still slots perfectly into the landscape. While the clever interplay running from ear to ear in the mix proves willingly disorientating when experienced through headphones. With "Fractured" adding a more overtly spaced out prog feel and "Battlefield" providing a stark, spartan arrangement that grows into a surprisingly warm, if still remote, diversion, it's left to "Moving On" to reveal the most blatant fusing of electronics, prog and jazzy melodies to an album that hints at this ideal throughout.

Fractured may not be quite the Lunatic Soul album people might have been expecting and, in many ways, it possibly feels more like an extension of Riverside than this project ever has before. Nevertheless that doesn't stop it from being a deep, involved and fascinating journey and one that feels personal on a level few artists could ever hope to achieve.

Track Listing
1. Blood on the Tightrope
2. Anymore
3. Crumbling Teeth and the Owl Eyes
4. Red Light Escape
5. Fractured
6. A Thousand Shards of Heaven
7. Battlefield
8. Moving On

Added: December 3rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Lunatic Soul at Kscope Music
Hits: 1606
Language: english

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