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Lunatic Soul - Under The Fragmented Sky CD (album) cover


Lunatic Soul

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Yesterday I was lucky to familiarize myself with two 2018 releases of very different duration. Beloved Antichrist by Therion is 3 hours of total playing time, and when I listened to it I couldn't wait when it comes to an end, and regretted that its duration was not 35 minutes or so. On the contrary, Under the Fragmented Sky by Lunatic Soul is just 35 minutes of total playing time! - and I regretted that it was not... no, perhaps 3 hours would be an excess, but 70-80 minutes would be fine. I listened to the album and wished it continued. The music was so comfortable and sounded like a slow thought, sad but not pessimistic. A sort of spiritual trip beyond reality that should end happily. Some moments reminded me a few dreamy passages from Architectural Metaphor's Creature Of The Velvet Void. Though in my terms Walking On A Flashlight Beam still remains Lunatic Soul's best release, I enjoyed Under the Fragmented Sky very much. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#1952101)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars LUNATIC SOUL Under the Fragmented Sky

Mariuz is experimenting with looping and sampling--especially with his voice.

1. "He av En" (4:05) looped vocal tracks with percussives, bass, and guitar. (8/10)

2. "Trials" (5:44) several vocal loops and keyboard and bass riffs over a simple metronomic computer snare track. I like the bass and synth line of the final two minutes--that's when the song finally comes to life. (8.5/10)

3. "Sorrow" (1:30) acoustic nylon string guitar with spacey synth noises and wordless, breathy, upper register vocal. (4/5)

4. "Under the Fragmented Sky" (5:03) Mariuz singing from the beginning with cadence support of the strumming of two (and later three) guitars. Second verse has a second, separate vocal woven within the melody and words of the first. At the end of the second chorus bass, piano, and synths thicken the soundscape while fuzzed guitar plays a slow, melodic solo. Then we return to the opening movement before a break lets in some odd vocalizations and bass line and piano. This plays out till the song's end as voices fade into the background and piano stays up front, alone. (9/10)

5. "Shadows" (4:31) heavy, spacey, atmospheric, synths and tuned percussives play at both ends of the audio spectrum before more of the same and bass join in to add some more filler to the middle ranges. Guitar joins in at the beginning of the second minute. There is an industrial, minimalist feel to this instrumental music. The sections cycle around in an A-B-A-C sequence with horn-like synth in the second "verse" section and twangy guitars filling the spacious final section. (7.5/10)

6. "Rinsing the Night" (3:56) acoustic guitars feel indie-folk, even southern folk-bluegrass. Household and synthesized percussives and bass join in in the second minute. Vocalise and other lines are one-by-one mixed into the weave. Picked acoustic guitar takes the lead in the final minute before returning to within the weave for the end. (8/10)

7. "The Art of Repairing" (7:54) keyboard activated vocal and industrial noise samples open this song, forming a bit of a Laurie Anderson-like weave. In the second minute, keys, cymbols, and multiple synths join in, changing the dynamics and feel. Once things settle down, a KRAFTWERK-like rhythm base has been established over which multiple vocal samples are activated, alternated, interwoven, and rotated. All of the sounds rotated into this piece (except the vocal samples) seem as if updated versions of old electronica sounds. I wonder if Mariuz has ever heard the albums by Jean-Michel Jarre and Claire Hammill, Zoolook from 1984 and Voices from 1986, respectively. They far accomplish more than what he's trying to do on this album. (8/10)

8. "Untamed" (3:24) opening like SEAL's "Crazy," this one evolves into a more straightforward prog pop song. A good song. More like this, please. (8.5/10)

3.5 stars; a fair addition to a prog rock lover's music collection--depending on whether or not you wish to put in for some conservative exploration of old technologies.

Report this review (#2025070)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Released in May 2018, Riverside bassist/frontman Mariusz Duda marks the first decade of his solo project Lunatic Soul with his sixth album under that alias, `Under The Fragmented Sky', and it couldn't be more appropriately titled. It constantly diverts between darker moods with uplifting hopeful passages, and lyrically is wistfully romantic and optimistic to answer the gloomier soundtracks behind it, and despite sharing a lyric from a track off the previous album `Fractured' and mostly originating from the same 2016/17 sessions, `...Sky' stands perfectly well on its own and is hardly mere `leftovers'. With about three quarters of the disc being instrumental, this particular LS disc mixes dark electronica and ambient styles, percussion- heavy brooding, vocal drones and superior balladry, making for another intelligent and varied emotional work from the Polish artist.

`He-av-en' unhurriedly wraps wordless sighing vocal loops around ethereal synth washes, simple percussion taps and chiming guitar strains together for an intriguing opener. `Trials' mixes purring vocal twitching and electronic glitches to take on a hypnotic shimmer that eventually melts into stormy shadowy rumbles, then `Sorrow' is all delicate electric piano tiptoes and an introspective soothing vocal cry from Mariusz. His title-track is an acoustic/electric tune sung passionately with intimate reflection ("Isolation, all my anger, regret...they're gone. I feel stronger...and it stopped the feeling I'm crumbling apart..."), and pretty multi-tracked harmonies, haunting piano and weeping exquisite guitar reaches lift the piece even higher.

`Shadows' reverberates with menacing machine programming that takes on a light-industrial coolness locking in pensive acoustic guitar ringing and slithering bass, an aching eastern-flavoured dustiness infiltrating the piece and into the following `Rinsing the Night', with an eerie blend of clipping pulsing beats and exotic percussion. `The Art of Repairing' is the highlight of the disc, a chilled slink through mellow electronica and head-nodding beats. The closer is then a lovely farewell ballad, and although Duda and Riverside are (still) ignorantly dismissed as Porcupine Tree clones by some, in this instance `Untamed' sounds very much like a Steven Wilson outtake, even down to the alternating electric/acoustic passages and gorgeous piano! Thankfully it's still beautifully sung with genuine warmth conveying the words, and it makes for an embracing and reassuring wrap to the album.

Although a fairly short (but wonderfully vinyl-length!) work at about thirty-seven minutes, and the third and fourth discs `Impressions' and especially `Walking on a Flashlight Beam' are the superior artistic statements under the Lunatic Soul banner so far, `...Sky' is perhaps the most intimate and subdued. Considering the difficult personal circumstances Mariusz has been around the last few years, the solemn reflection with traces of hope and an appreciation for life permeating the disc lift it even higher, helping make `Under The Fragmented Sky' a renewing, evocative and tasteful release from a smart and thoughtful artist.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Report this review (#2038789)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mariusz Duda is without any doubt one of the most prolific and creative forces in progressive music right now. For several years, alongside his band mates in Riverside and through out Lunatic Soul, he has become a leader, about creativity, experimenting with sounds, melodies, soundscapes, and what the musician can do with his bass or keyboards. For me this give his music such a distinctive sound and personality. Pure gold in progressive music in my humble opinion. Under the Fragmented Sky, the 6th Lunatic Soul full album is a continuation to the highly praised Fractured. Mariusz develops the dark atmosphere even further while developing the general concept flowing through its predecessor.

Under the Fragmented Sky was originally going to be a maxi-single, but Duda took the brave decision to give these songs a life of their own by shaping them into a full-length album, completing the journey started in "Fractured".

The listener is greeted with 'He av en', which is a savory appetizer for what's to come. Lunatic Soul's music at its best. Bass lines heavily distorted, in a melody that morphs into rhythms with vocalized harmonies. Slow beat of tambourine, and more melodies overlapping but never covering the other, join all together to create a beautiful soundscape. Trials open the way to the electronic side of Duda's dark compositions and musical atmospheres. Here we're given a lyric line repeated in a robotic way, almost nonstop in different harmonies and ranges. The flowing melody seems to me extracted from any Riverside song but then taken apart and rebuilt with sounds, effects and rhythms. This is classic in Lunatic Soul's experimentation. Towards the second half, the song turns darker with ominous vocal sounds. The keyboard and guitar melodies that any Tangerine Dream fan would love. Sorrow is a short transitional song with acoustic guitar and atmospheric ghost-like sounds, opening the doors for the title track Under the Fragmented Sky. The title-track which takes its name comes from 'A Thousand Shards of Heaven' from Fractured, is a beautiful yet sad song but musically stunning. Lyrically I understand it as the struggle between succumbing to fears and anger or to remain true to oneself despite our losses. I believe this song might be one of the most personal ones for Duda's after all the tragedy and transformation he has gone through over the last couple of years. Many of us can easily identify with this struggle, that's why it moves every fiber of my heart. The song closes returning to the same melody from He av en, but in a different key. Honoring the dark nature of this album, 'Shadows' starts with a very dark atmosphere. The main melody, threading through the song could have been on any Riverside album, but how Duda is able to turn melodies, sounds and effects into such atmospheres is something he is absolutely a genius at. Like Shadows Raising the Night' continues this voyage through dark realms full of shades and colored lights. Here we're offered more color and more complex rhythms aided by cymbal sounds and strings. Mariusz vocalization joins to guide us calling our curiosity to be awakened to find its own path. The Art of Repairing contains off-beat electronic sounds like broken machines. Together they slowly form a rhythm and melodies. Like a machine finding new life thanks to its own errors when masterfully repaired by allowing it just to flow. Progression at its finest. Closing this journey, 'Untamed' is the second and last song with full lyrics on this remarkable album. It has a more positive vibe. This very personal song is more a flag of hope showing us that not all is darkness in this world. It tells us that we all have our strengths within ourselves, no matter how dark the night is, there's always ways to win our fights and defeat our demons. What a way to close this album. Mariusz Duda has done it again. He has given us another masterpiece of progressive experimentation that is full of emotions. Once again musically he gave us the chance to witness an even darker journey through feelings and emotions, but delivering us into light again with our hopes for what's to come.

The future is bright for us.

Report this review (#2189277)
Posted Monday, April 29, 2019 | Review Permalink

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