Mariusz Duda is a busy man, steadily releasing albums with Riverside and Lunatic Soul. There hasn’t been a decline in quality, despite the intensity. “Fractured” is the follow-up to 2014’s Walking on a Flashlight Beam, an album I enjoyed. Where “Walking on a Flashlight Beam” was an album experience with a cohesive mood, “Fractured” feels more like a collection of moods and themes. You can also read my review of Riverside’s “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” right here on the site.
Lunatic Soul is not a project where you find catchy hooks or easy outs. “Fractured” is no different in this regard. Mariusz is fascinatingly indulgent on this album, mixing electronic experimentation with his signature rock melodicism. The music feels like an inward therapy trip; it’s not really a listener’s album. It moves from direct, vulnerable emotional to an abstract, nocturnal trip in moments. This rings true in both music and lyricism.
The songs on “Fractured”
“A Thousand Shards of Heaven” was my initial favorite, and remains so. This one has some of the most compelling melodies and vocal lines that Mariusz ever produced. “I want to feel what it’s like when sorrow turns into strength / I want to feel what it’s like when there’s no screeches in my head.” The first six minutes of the song are marvellously introspective and emotional. In typical “Fractured” fashion, the song then takes a left turn into loose musical experimentation.
1. Blood on the Tightrope
3. Crumbling Teeth and the Owl Eyes
4. Red Light Escape
6. A Thousand Shards of Heaven
8. Moving On
“Red Light Escape” takes us into nocturnal territory. The tales of nighttime and addiction in the lyrics are matched by the music. It’s a song that would fit on Riverside’s Rapid Eye Movement album, which had a lot of these darker moments. “Anymore” is another interesting tune, opting for a more accessible format. It’s got a mellow, repetitive groove to it that’s very pleasant.
The twists and turns are the album’s strength as well as its weakness. There is always a surprise coming, but it also means that “Fractured” feels like a collection of different themes rather than a cohesive unit. It’s not an album that fits a particular mood or setting. Once again, I find myself admiring the indulgent exploration on display here. Any musician who dares to go all in on his ideas like this deserves a thumbs up.
Vocals and instrumentation
The vocals are, as expected, a highlight. They’ve almost got conversational feel to them, like he’s trying to explain something important to the listeners. It shows in the sincerity of the performance. I don’t think I’ve heard Mariusz go through the speakers in this way before. It’s probably due to how personal this collection of songs is.
I don’t have much to say about the musicality (or production, actually) of the album, except that it’s great. There are many cool bass lines, as well as electronics, acoustic and electric guitars building the mood(s). And in the end, I find the atmosphere of the album to be such more important than instrumental performance or sound production.
All in all, Lunatic Soul’s “Fractured” is another strong addition to a great musical resume. The music itself is good, and Mariusz is certainly not running out of things to express. I can only admire his productivity and dedication and wait for his next creation to be released.