Album Review – Lunatic Soul – Walking on a Flashlight Beam (2014)

Availbility: Kscope (record label), YouTube (full album stream), Mystic Production, and Spotify

Walking on a Flashlight Beam is the fourth album of Mariusz Duda, vocalist of progressive rock band Riverside. Lunatic Soul was founded as a progressive/ambient side project, and with Wawrzyniec Dramowicz, explores death and the mythology surrounded the afterlife.

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Shutting Out the Sun envelops the listener with dark ambient, the sound of crashing waves against the seashore, with a repetitive droning clunk sound effects and synthesizers. This opening track introduces the return to the dynamics of the first two Lunatic Soul albums (I, 2008 and II, 2010), and the full direction of the album; which infused progressive, ambient and alternative rock, and was more mournful in instrumental narrative than the previous album, Impressions (2011). The latter is closer to conceptual instrumental, Mariusz  Duda’s vocals being monotone and forlorn.

Cold is filled with tension at first as Duda douses the track with traditional intelligent dance music (IDM), dark ambient before relaxing with acoustic guitars, light bass and percussion, his vocals more upbeat, drawing inspiration from Steve Hogarth, current vocalist of Marillion, as the musical direction filters more folk/country influences. Gutter changes course, converting to raw atmospheric progressive rock, with ambient and Ancient Egyptian undertones, the vocals matching the distant feel, with soft notes and echoing backing sighs, that accompany and accolade the synthesizers.

Stars Sellotaped goes beyond from a sound effect of someone opening up a door into a soundscape of a beautiful blend of electronic ambiance, and progressive trance with a edge of dark ambient; and a repeating drone that has not been heard since Lunatic Soul I, on the track Where the Darkness is Deepest; concluding that the storyline of the fourth album is a continuation of where the first two lyrical albums left off. The Fears Within is contextually softer, relying more on the percussion, acoustics and electronic ambiance, this hinting back to Lunatic Soul II and Impressions in plot.

Treehouse is constructively a pure progressive rock track, with light blues rhythm and soulful vocals, which is then replaced by Pygamalion’s Ladder, a melding of Latin, Middle Eastern, and Medieval European instrumentation, and pensive lyrics, mildly touching on classical progressive rock and ambient, which when introduced draws likeness from Genesis, specifically a re-imagining of the build-up to the “chapter” Apocalypse in 9/8 of Supper’s Ready (Foxtrot, 1972) , performed originally by Tony Banks and Steve Hackett.

Sky Drawn in Crayon makes a darker turn, into acoustics that resemble neoclassical dark wave, with dark ambient and art rock traces within the background. Walking on a Flashlight Beam resumes this focus, however lighter in delivery and presents lo-fi into the mix. This track in particular is the closest to the works of Riverside, mainly from the albums Second Life Syndrome (2005), Rapid Eye Movement (2007), Anno Domini High Definition (2008), Memories in my Head (2011), and their most recent release Love, Fear and the Time Machine (2015), and contains elements of alternative metal, with the slight influence of death/doom, similar to the transition to their progressive peers Katatonia and Anathema.

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