It’s always an exciting time when your favorite artist seems to be churning out masterpieces in such a short amount of time. Mariusz Duda of Riverside, Lunatic Soul, and Meller Gołyźniak Duda has been very busy the last couple years, and he is back with a mini album from Lunatic Soul. This companion album to last year’s “Fractured” is over a half hour long, and provides more of the distinct personality of that album. “Under the Fragmented Sky” releases on May 25th on Kscope.
Lunatic Soul has always been this ambient, shadowy journey into the afterlife or into the dark places of our hearts and minds. This album is no different, but does continue the more electronic and I daresay 80s New Wave direction started somewhat on “Walking on a Flashlight Beam” and fully realized in “Fractured”. That means the music is electronic in foundation, but with many organic accents, such as acoustic guitar, pure vocal melodies, and beautiful keys. This mini album is a fully realized and complete little voyage, even if you haven’t heard the previous album.
Surprisingly, parts of this album remind me of the LS debut back in 2008, such as the chilling voyage “Shadows” or the inner passage “Rinsing the Night”. However, much of this mini album sounds more like “Fractured”, and even a bit of it sounds like completely new shades of sound from Duda. The album is indeed mostly instrumental, but flows so nicely that you will want to play it again as soon as it is finished.
Duda’s voice keeps getting better and better, as his melancholy vocals have become more melodic and more technically proficient. You may be surprised that this album contains quite a few moments of auto tune, as it fits the lyrical and musical content well. I rather love the experimentation and solid melodies that he produces on each and every track.
This album does feel quite a bit happier than “Fractured”, even with all the darker moments. The end of “Fractured” was all about the resolve and willpower to overcome the odds that sorrow and pain can present us. This album continues that theme, and seems to follow the same arc, too; almost offering more abstract presentations of the same concepts, like the “Impressions” album did for the first two albums. So, the lyrics can often be looping in nature, almost like the protagonist is trying to convince himself of the truth in those words. As expected, the lyrics are deep and effective.
Every track on the album is very well done. “He av en” is a subtle opener that sets the tone with Duda’s signature vocal inflections playing a major role (including a vocal harmony that will reprise multiple times in the album). I love the strong keys that come in near the end. A somewhat similar track would be “The Art of Repairing”, an instrumental canvas of various beats, loops, and acoustic touches. I love the beat and the array of things happening all at once. Both of these tracks are more abstract and experimental, as opposed to the purity of songs like the single “Untamed”.
My favorite two tracks are “Trials” and the title track. The former has this wonderfully filtered and melodic vocal from Duda, plus a catchy beat, that transitions into a darker and even sinister electronic current near the end. The title track is a stunning beauty of a song with extremely melodic singing from Duda along with gorgeous acoustic guitar and powerful piano setting the stage.
Mariusz Duda can do no wrong for me. “Under the Fragmented Sky” is yet under powerful and meaningful release from his mind, and his foray into electronic music has come at the perfect time for me, as my interests have swayed in that directions recently, too. If you loved “Fractured”, you will love this album, plain and simple.
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