If the songwriting of Polish rockers Riverside has taught us anything, it is that the visions and inspirations of Mariusz Duda form an articulate tale of impressionable reflection. Riverside bring that atmospheric edge to their already dense prog material – musically crafting the blend of metal to go with their songwriting. Their albums are atmospheric, whilst retaining the rhythmic and punchy traditions of otherwise conventional prog rock – hell, they haven’t been called a ‘modern Pink Floyd’ for nothing. Duda’s solo project, Lunatic Soul, however, are something completely different.
If Riverside’s albums were the high-impact journey through time, space and relativity whilst on a metaphorical high, then Lunatic Soul provide the necessary melancholic goods for the icy winter return home. Not only are the compositions on the fourth album Walking On A Flashlight Beam alternate and complex, they are riddled with exceptionally haunting samples, that add to its already bellowing depth.
It is not by any means loud or heavy, but the album is all consuming and at times, hypnotic. The absence of electric guitar separate this from other progressive material, and whilst many purists may criticise this for its noticeable ‘lack of metal’ approach, this is in fact, a beautiful complement to the poignant dark atmosphere of the album. Visualising that one is solitarily walking in a dark environment, with nothing to guide the way except for the mild flicker of light, gives the listener a strange variety of opinions throughout the album. The sense of fear. Isolation. Anxiety. Remorse. Loss. Depravation. That is exactly the meaning behind Walking On A Flashlight Beam.
The sense that by oneself, the individual can evoke several emotions that permeate the mind are helped by Lunatic Soul’s deeply evocative material. The samples found at the opener “Shutting Out The Sun” are similar to rushing waves over a beach in the dead of night, that are then followed by a slow developing rhythm, that is only brought to light with “Cold”, that leaves a lick of prog brilliance (albeit slightly long) in the listener’s head for several hours afterwards.
Perhaps it can be argued that the album represents the journey that the human mind can explore at both ends of the psychological spectrum. From upbeat and positive to miserable and gloomy in the space of a few minutes. The concrete narrative of the album is clearly open to interpretation and that is one of the few reasons that makes Walking On A Flashlight Beam one of the finer releases of 2014.
The prog conventions are all on display, ranging from the pure and mesmerising vocals that seldom make an appearance from Duda himself (for new fans, think the wholesome-yet-soft voicings of Mikael Akerfeldt), to the spellbinding samples that entrance the listener at every corner. Some songs, like “Pygmalion’s Ladder” are perhaps best representative of everything that Lunatic Soul bring to the table, and still without any electric guitar. The influence of classical and orchestral pieces take the song to its climax in great fashion, whilst being preceding and succeeded by flavours of Middle Eastern material.
On the whole, this is great prog rock that many experimental metal fans will appreciate. The progression and instrumental portions are mesmerising overall and this provides all the necessary components for everything psychedelic and lingering material that leaves a strong impression.
Shutting Out The Sun
The Fear Within
Sky Drawn In A Crayon
Walking On A Flashlight Beam
Lunatic Soul are:
Mariusz Duda – vocals, synth, keyboards, bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, producer