Damian finds much to enjoy as Riverside man takes a turn
One of the benefits of overseas travel, I find, is the ability to discover and enjoy that nation`s music.
A trip to Poland many years ago threw up a band called Riverside and after I’d exhausted their catalogue I found that Mariusz Duda, the talented creator, singer and multi-instrumentalist had a side project called Lunatic Soul. So, years on, here we are and Lunatic Soul are about to release their fifth album and the follow up to 2014’s acclaimed `Walking On A Flashlight Beam`.
`Fractured`, has been described by Duda as an album of catharsis after a challenging year in his personal life with the death, not only of his father but his friend and Riverside guitarist Piotr Grudziński.
Mariusz explains further “the main theme of “Fractured” is coming back to life after a personal tragedy. It’s inspired by what happened in my life in 2016 and by everything that’s happening around us and what’s making us turn away from one another and divide into groups, for better and for worse. Musically it will be the most original album I have ever made as well as the most accessible and personal album in the Lunatic Soul discography.”
“Blood On The Tightrope” opens the album and has initially a hypnotic drumbeat and synthesised backing supporting Mariusz`s pleading vocals. The mid to later part of the song almost becomes a competition between the backing drums, piano keys, synth riffs and Mariusz`s vocals to get an airing. A really mesmerising track. “Anymore” follows and the heartfelt words seem like a quest from the singer to his father, asking him to see what he has become and what he has achieved are shared over an eerie and at times quite an Arabic sound. A very earnest, honest and moving song.
“Crumbling Teeth And The Owl Eyes” is again a personal outlook where the narrator is clinging to their child to help them get through their pain. The music is quite theatrical come expansive and is aided by Poland’s Sinfonietta Consonus Orchestra, conducted by Michał Mierzejewski.
“Red Light Escape” is a stripped back piece with initially a drum machine beat, occasional synth riffs and Mariusz`s melancholic vocals, A fuller sound fleshes the composition out midway through
Simple but effective lyrics of `through your stormy waves through your crumbled walls through your broken sky through your fractured soul` are shouted at us towards the end of the album`s title track “Fractured,” A strange offering, which is as close to a drum and bass arrangement as I’ve heard.
The wonderful ballad “A Thousand Shards Of Heaven” follows and has again Poland’s Sinfonietta Consonus Orchestra assisting alongside the superb saxophonist Marcin Odyniec.
I really didn`t know quite what to make of the lyrics to the penultimate track “Battlefield” but they seemed to fit with the ethereal feel of the music.
The album closes out with “Moving On” and it`s a song that could have been written by Depeche Mode with its electronic beat and rhythmic style.
I really enjoyed this album, it wasn`t what I was expecting from somebody who has given us some of the most captivating progressive music coming from Europe.
This was quite a brave experiment and worked well. The lyrics are very personal and can be seen in the context of a sort of cleansing, purging of mind and spirit. I found the album at times fascinating, captivating and compelling. Thanks for sharing your pain Mariusz.