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Lunatic Soul - Walking On A Flashlight Beam CD (album) cover

WALKING ON A FLASHLIGHT BEAM

Lunatic Soul

 

Crossover Prog

3.99 | 334 ratings

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ergaster
5 stars 5/5

In a year where very little of the new music has grabbed my attention, the new Lunatic Soul has roared in like a bullet train; "a breath of fresh air" hardly does it justice. This album is huge. Yes, I know that very often that initial rush of lust does not last. We fall prey to hope and hype, the album gets played exhaustively?and then months later we realize how much we were oversold.

Not this time. I got the files for LS IV early in October for another review, and it has not been out of daily rotation since. It is going to join the other three LS albums as some of the most important music of my life. There is no little niggling doubt, my gut feels just as happy as the rest of me.

The album we have is not exactly the album that had been planned; Mariusz Duda has been quite open about his difficulties with making this record. I think there are also clues in the very first teaser released early on: the images and the colours do not correspond with the album that eventually materialized. Walking on a Flashlight Beam was inspired by deliberate disconnection from society, seclusion, chosen solitude, the artist Zdzisław Beksińsky and his son Tomasz, the Japanese hikikomori phenomenon, and his own brief retreat from the world--an album about self-imposed isolation, loneliness, longing and fear--dark in theme, dark blue in colour scheme, and the most entirely individual statement Duda has yet made in his music. This is a true solo album, unlike any of the others, with all instruments and vocals his own, only the drums left to the inspired and underrated genius of former Indukti member Wawrzyniec Dramowicz. It was clearly the album he needed to make, and the results are stunning.

Intricate and cinematic, it is an album of deep emotional resonance. It is structured in three distinct parts over 9 songs: the first three tracks are dark, intense, electronically-driven, building a mood of foreboding, despair, desperate yearning. The standout song here, and arguably on the entire album, is "Gutter", an absolutely monstrous track of charging, relentless, downright sexy oriental rhythms and a massive bassline...and the singing. Oh my god, the singing!

The middle section is mostly instrumental, ambient and textural: "The Fear Within" all anxiety-inducing jagged intersecting rhythms and themes. After that "Treehouse" comes as a bit of a shock, with its conventional song-structure and poppy upbeat feel, it almost seems out of place, but not quite.

The last third of the album is the climax both musically and lyrically. "Pygmalion's Ladder" is the long piece, very prog-like in its intricacy and expert shifts in mood over its 12 minutes, with echoes of "Gutter" in its strong rhythms, eastern themes, and fine singing. After the poignant "Sky Drawn in Crayon" the album ends with a sense of resolution in the majestic title track--this is an immense song, and to my mind represents maybe the finest (or so close to it as to make little difference) piece of music that Mariusz Duda has ever written. Soaring, orchestral, with staggeringly beautiful melody and vocal moments, it would be perfect if it didn't take a bar or two too long to end.

WoaFB is unmistakably Lunatic Soul, but it does have a different feel from the other three albums. It is darker and denser in texture, heavily dependent on electronics and effects, but all the key elements are present: no electric guitar, lively with percussion, and despite the sometimes ambient feel it is very melody-driven. The real revelation for me though is the jaw-dropping singing from Duda. He is known for his beautiful voice, but on this album he pulls out all the stops: subtle, nuanced, heartbreakingly delicate, an unsuspectedly wide range and control, this man has some serious vocal chops.

The more I hear this album, the more I want to hear it. Maybe I'm biased, but to hell with it. It is what it is. It hits an emotional chord in me that pretty much nothing else has come close to even finding. Not only is it orders of magnitude better than the vast majority of music I have heard this year, it tops most things from the past half-decade at least. I always suspected that Mariusz Duda deserves way more notice for his pure songwriting skills and musical vision, and this album demonstrates why.

ergaster | 5/5 |

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