Review Summary: "There’s something that draws me in"
Mariusz Duda, the man behind Lunatic Soul (LS), has had a pretty prolific career thus far. He has been especially busy since 2008, where he has released an album almost on a yearly basis with both his main band Riverside, as well as his solo project LS. 2014 brings us the fourth installment of Mariusz’ more experimental project, entitled Walking On A Flashlight Beam
For me personally Mariusz has reached Steven Wilson and Daniel Cavanagh status, whereby every music project with major contributions from him is on my “must listen to” list, and I have been eager to hear this album since the initial announcement was made. Mariusz claimed to be moving away from the oriental elements that led him to form Lunatic Soul in the first place, and towards more alternative realms. While I had hoped for him to traverse across more dark and ominous paths, I trusted that Mariusz would still conjure up some interesting results.
The first thing that struck me about the album was the song lengths. There are four songs over the eight minute mark, with the centre piece being the 12 minute “Pygmalion’s Ladder.” Seeing this produced both feelings of apprehension as well as intrigue. I enjoyed the musical styles of previous LS albums, but I found it difficult to imagine these styles being effectively stretched for the song lengths present on this record. I observed a variety of conflicting feelings throughout the duration of Walking On A Flashlight Beam
The album starts off strongly and the opener “Shutting Out The Sun” got me excited by fulfilling some of my expectations from the album. There are eerie sound effects that remind me of the Silent Hill OST
as well as gorgeous acoustic guitar work and immersive vocal layers. The next two tracks are also good compositions, and it’s when I got to the third track that I started to truly notice what Mariusz meant by the “alternative” direction he was taking. There are a host of interesting instruments used on the album, but overall it feels less experimental than the preceding albums. The majority of the songs have a little more structure than we’re accustomed to with LS music. There is a significant presence of Mariusz primary instrument, the bass guitar, as well as his vocals, the drums and of course the acoustic guitar.
was the first LS album without lyrics, and with this album's release remains the only one without them, as Mariusz has decided to properly sing again. While his vocal melodies are good, only a few of them really stood out as very memorable, which was a surprise to me. The compositions are relatively streamlined and there are a number of strong melodies on offer with some songs being reminiscent of Steven Wilson’s singer-songwriter compositions, while others are more haunting in nature, and some melodies even have a Middle Eastern flavor. The musical transitions are smooth and none of the elements are abrasive or jarring. There are a few new elements to the music, but also a lot of trademark features.
After listening to this album several times one thing really strikes me, I don’t remember too many melodies. I was surprised that I felt this way about an album that is over 60 minutes long. The songs aren’t taxing to listen to; on the contrary, I found it quite easy to sit through most of the album, yet for some reason I couldn’t remember a lot of it. The album doesn’t really take any risks either, and this may be one of the reasons for my supposed memory loss. It is by no means a weak album, but unfortunately it lacks some of the qualities that could to take it from being good, to being great. Regardless of these weaknesses, it still is a good piece of work and it will probably delight people who are curious about this style of music.