Side projects: It seems that everyone has one. During the breaks between tours and writing, some musicians cannot stop doing what they love. I have heard many side projects over the years, some I ended up falling in love with, and others I ended up hating. This next album obviously falls into the prior category. One of my favorite international musicians, Mariusz Duda has written one of my favorite side project albums in “Walking On A Flashlight Beam.”
Duda, a Polish multi-instrumentalist, is best known for being the lead singer and bassist of the band Riverside. Even with several releases with his primary band, Duda has continued to write music under his side project Lunatic Soul. As Riverside, the band’s genre is strictly progressive rock, but as Lunatic Soul, Duda expands the sound towards a more atmospheric and experimental rock, even touching the genres of industrial rock, ambient rock, and alternative metal. “Walking On A Flashlight Beam” is easily Lunatic Soul’s most impactful and complete album, one that should be listened to by everyone.
The album begins with sounds of crashing waves, setting the mood and revealing the atmospheric sound that will be present throughout the entire album. The organ and keyboards are heavily used in this album, along with the use of sound manipulation and percussion instruments. In fact, the album is unlike most progressive albums in that the electric guitar isn’t used much in this album, and is instead replaced with the acoustic guitar. As the opening song progresses, more instruments are added until the climax, in which the song incorporates all instruments used on this album. This album is great to listen to with your eyes closed, since the listener is more aware of the rises and falls which are beautifully orchestrated by the band.
Unlike most progressive rock albums, “Walking…” contains brilliant moments of sound manipulation influenced by artists like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the key figures in such soundtracks like “Gone Girl” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” The songs “The Fear Within” and “Sky Drawn In Crayon” are great examples of this expansion of sound. The word “progressive” is perfect in describing this album, since the album pushes the envelope on what is considered the traditional “progressive rock” sound. Using the definition of the word, this album easily makes use of new ideas that have revolutionized the rock music genre.
The best songs on this album are easily “Cold,” “Gutter,” and the title track “Walking On A Flashlight Beam.” “Cold,” the album’s only single, contains a great rhythm from the acoustic guitar, while incorporating effect-driven keys and vocals. The overlay of backing vocals is absolutely stunning, and helps to add to the emotion behind the lyrics. The song reflects on someone coming out of their comfort zone:
“But there’s something beyond that draws me in / I abandon my shelter when the crowd thins out / I go there when the warm night falls / Stay behind the yellow line / Insecure” (source)
The bass guitar is the center of attention in the song “Gutter,” my personal favorite song. Reminiscent of Tool and the band Nine Inch Nails, the use of multiple percussion instruments, the bass guitar, and the sound effects generates a very eerie, dark sound. Despite the darkness felt in this song, the vocals are sung in falsetto in the chorus, giving the listener a sense of security, a feeling that all will end alright.
“The fear is what I need, what I need to believe / The fear is what I need, what I need to feel / And so I dragged myself into this gutter of mine / Where shades of prey feed on my soul .” (source)
A great interview has been done with Duda by Progsphere in which Duda personally describes the theme and mood of the album. You can check it out here.
The best thing about this album is obviously the vocals and bass guitar provided by the man in charge. Duda has great range in his voice, and can easily adapt to the shifting sounds throughout the album. The overall dark tones of this album only adds to his vocal ability, which is much more airy and uplifting. The bass lines he provides outperforms the rest of the instruments when used, which is rare in most progressive rock albums. Because of the darker sound, the bass guitar is much more fitting, and perfectly complements the sound.
I recommend “Walking On A Flashlight Beam” to those who are already fans of the band Riverside, but also to bands like Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Tangerine Dream. Please support Lunatic Soul by checking out their website and music.