Under The Fragmented Sky by Lunatic Soul

Release date: May 25, 2018
Label: Kscope

Mariusz Duda is a busy boy.  With his progressive powerhouse Riverside gearing up to release their seventh album, he has somehow found time to release a sixth album under the Lunatic Soul name. Under the Fragmented Sky is billed as a companion piece to last year’s Fractured album, itself only a few months old, and tonally it shows – they complement each other, even if …Fragmented Sky has a more freeform tone. These albums feel more personal than previous records, and both records have a sense of despondent despair coupled with cautious optimism – a sense of picking oneself up after a hurricane.

It fits well with Lunatic Soul’s ambient sound – Duda has always been an expert at crafting beautiful, emotive compositions, and Under the Fragmented Sky is no exception.  The layered electronica, bass and drums that make up Lunatic Soul’s sound are used in increasingly inventive ways, and with sparse lyrics, Mariusz’ soulful voice is mostly used as another instrument. It creates a hypnotic sense of nostalgia, a sonic screaming that mesmerises the listener.

If there is a problem with this album it’s that it feels a bit unfinished. Opener ‘He av en’ is a fantastic instrumental with an incredibly catchy hook, and followed up by the gloomy, mesmeric ‘Trials’, with its repetitive lyrics and glitchy soundscape start the album on the right track, but from there on things become a bit uneven. The acoustic guitar led title track, while a fantastic track in its own right, sticks out like a sore thumb and largely feels like it comes from a different album.

The next two tracks are the dark, bass-led ‘Shadows’ and the more upbeat ‘Rinsing the Night’, both of which feel a bit of a let-down compared to what has come before. ‘The Art of Self Repairing’ brings things back on track; it’s another piece to lose yourself in, glitchy hypnotic and dark. The album closes with ‘Untamed’, which again is an excellent, emotional closer to a completely different album. It feels completely at odds with the previous tracks, and ends up giving the album an uneven feel.

It seems unfair to criticise Under the Fragmented Sky too heavily. A couple of songs feel like offcuts from Fractured, but at other times the album has its own alluring voice. There’s no sense of flow or coherence to the album, and tracks such as ‘Rinsing the Night’ end up feeling a little rushed and under-developed.  At other times though the album is hypnotic, an emotional journey of loss and self-discovery that needed just a little more time to develop.

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