Album Review: Under the Fragmented Sky by Lunatic Soul

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Mariusz Duda’s (also known for Riverside) solo project “Lunatic Soul” joins a fairly distinguished musical cohort this time around with its new release “Under the Fragmented Sky” which provides a blueprint for ambient-tinged prog-rock brimming with dark atmospherics more or less akin to a secret lovechild of Opeth and Radiohead. “He Av En” is the introductory instrumental that shapeshifts between somnolent strokes of a lullaby to murkier clouds of paranoia pretty much like the second track “Trials” which is heavily studded with Radioheadish motifs transitioning between a dream and a nightmare adding a whole new dimension to Lunatic Soul’s musical dialect. “Sorrow” is a sullen acoustic interlude which implores emotive lyrics and soulful vocals before it underpins that peculiar Opeth-fueled divinity in “Under the Fragmented Sky” known to anthems ringing inside the walls of an abandoned cathedral overspread with foliage. “Shadows” lasts for a 4-minute uninterrupted loop of dark ambient tones as the trademark melancholy sets in to deliver the psychological impasse in “Rinsing the Night” which can serve as a promising original soundtrack for a Lynchian horror.

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“The Art of Repairing” is an experiment gone right, layered with mutant club music, a futuristic appeal and a digital wind of eeriness it ends up sounding a tad bit cult which is definitely a plus. “Untamed” is the perfect album closer with wavering strings and tranquil pianos that potentially anesthetizes your senses to rejoice in the melodic transience of a melancholic reverie. Suffice to say, “Under the Fragmented Sky” definitely ups Lunatic Soul’s game and reassures Duda’s understanding of various musical art forms.

Album rating: 4.5/5.

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Music Recommendation: Lingering by Sleep Party People

Every once in a while you come across music that manages to make you beam with stray gleams of happiness as you get teleported to your most coveted sci-fi dreams and revel in the ephemeral clouds of escapism. More than usual, the compositional diversity of electronic music catches you by surprise at every turn and Sleep Party People’s “Lingering” released in the summer of 2017 is no different. Their first self-titled studio album was an ethereal rendition of dream-pop that curbed the idea of tinkering with formula electro-pop and boldly experimented around by even adding snappy bits of house. That being said, the overall sophistication on the production of their latest release renders it absolutely virginal and one of the finest records from last year.

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The introductory tracks “Figures” and “Fainting Spell” proliferate with a soulful bliss channeling the sonic variants of a euphoric mind-trip. The weightless clatter of synths might as well be the album’s greatest asset complementing the bittersweet balance of wishful dream-pop and ambient electronic. The old-school tonalities of “The Missing Step” and “Salix and His Soil” bubbling with songbird falsettos and long, gleeful sweeps of keyboard backing possess an innate sense of freshness. Transcendental goodness of “Dissensions (feat. Luster)”, “Limitations”, “The Sound of His Daughter” and “The Sun Will Open Its Core” combined with the monotone beats of drum machine and synth patches honors the retro-styled din with arms wide open. After full-blown bouts of ecstasy the album floats in stasis as the melodic dilution in “Lingering Eyes”, “We Are There Together (Feat. Beth Hirsch)” and “Odd Forms” nonchalantly romanticizes the evolution of a private utopia alienating everything close to reality before frolicking in the landscape of a “Vivid Dream”.

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Sleep Party People may be a bunch of high-strung musicians strictly keen on maintaining their anonymity cosplaying as creepy bunnies but are certainly worthy of some serious attention for modernizing ambient sororities as they strategically solve the dilemma of excavating human senses through their playful diction and alien palette of synthetic, slowcore sounds.

Inside The Batcave: Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe

The myriad of spooks liberating from the album art alone for Chelsea Wolfe’s “Hiss Spun”, accredited to Bill Crisafi’s visual imagery strutting the fine line between macabre and absurd makes it fall under the umbrella of goth but you’re definitely in for more. What looks like a pitchblack silhouette of a sorceress curled up like a bat ready to flit out of her cave, if anything, validates the serpentine analogies and the staged dark arts typography. The sludgy mélange of riffwork scrambled with industrially-tinged bass & drum strobes and staccato shreds of sirenic echoes condenses into haunting, moth-eaten melodies. This 48 minute long erotic cabaret is reinforced by proto-gothic influences as the drone-laden arrangements painstakingly intensify the fixation to the occult.

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“Spun” suffocates in the fumes of menacing doom and riff-heavy strings as the overall instrumental setting flatters the arch taste for the bizarre. “16 Psyche” unfurls into a dramatic opus under the allure of grisly ambient vibrato from dampened guitars. There’s something exceptionally sensual about Wolfe’s agitated humming on almost every song which sponsors the emotional vulnerability along with its theatrical morbidity. “Vex” rings with legion of  vintage horror movie tune paradoxically defining a fresher take on gothic music. The abrasiveness of a noxious bassline in “The Culling”, “Particle Flux”, “Offering” and “Scrape” is greased with pale synths yet take nothing away from their formless glory. “Twin Fawn” and “Two Spirit” open with dirgelike meditations draped in nightmarish melancholy which only seconds later get charred by pyres of explosive soundscapes before phasing out.

“Hiss Spun” in its entirety is a job well done making it one of the best releases from 2017. Expressing a forward adoration for the supernatural, it pays an out-of-the-textbook tribute to the techno-horror, darkwave techniques as it swoons with the resounding cannon of doom.

Album Review: The Dusk In Us by Converge

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The prophets of guttural vocal assault, hammering drumbeats and torrents of dissonance, Converge” released their latest studio album “The Dusk In Us” a couple of months back. My first listen proved to be quite gratifying as I was bent upon recalling the time of my life I spent obsessing over these metalcore titans. The harrowing themes of worldly horrors, political bestiality and firearm violence are delivered with saw-toothed musical arrangements and a cutthroat aggression which is no different a ritual known to their previous releases. The only marked difference would be the cultivation of a creative ground to address more grave issues other than fist-fighting depression or personal anguish. The front-man Jacob Bannon’s newly embraced fatherhood serves as the emotional catalyst to perpetrate this heavily orchestrated protest as he acknowledges his sole reason to fight back and exist.

“As a single teardrop fell,
And was swallowed by the sea.
You outshined the best there was,
Rewrote who I could be.
When I held you for the first time,
I knew I had to survive.”

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The uncontained vitriol seeps through the lyrics for the next forty minutes representing everything it antagonizes. “Eye of the Quarrel” signifies an artist’s struggle to stay true to his own set of laws and subscribe to the DIY ethics exclusive to his personal lexicon. The resistance against the infestation of the mind by conformity is fueled by chaotic counter-rhythms and crisp blast beats as the album proceeds. The deconstructed guitar licks in “Under Duress” interplay with the anarchic composition as Bannon grinds his vocal cords with merciless growls instilling a certain intellectual value to the song. “Akhripov Calm” is about Vasili Akhripov, a Russian naval officer and his sense of maturity which pacified a Soviet nuclear strike. Bannon deep down aspires to achieve that level of mental composure and inner calm in the quest to not let his bad energies spread like an epidemic. I absolutely find it inspirational how Bannon has managed to pen down his most intimate battles and raging emotions with the least bit of wordplay on songs like “I Can Tell You About Pain” and “Thousands of Miles Between Us” which is beautiful in itself. The angst moulded into something more meaningful with bludgeoning drums & oscillating guitars only helps the intended sensitivity to flourish. The melodic desperation in “The Dusk In Us” augments the memory of “Wretched World” on 2009’s “Axe to Fall”, both having enigmatic songcrafts and decipherable verses that quiver the marrow of the soul. The “preciously violent, beautifully abhorrent” stabs of noise accelerated to warp-speed ferocity in “Wildlife”, “Murk & Marrow”, “Broken by Light” and “Cannibals” do total justice to the overflowing verbal bile enthusing about fearless confrontation and individual autonomy.

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The laid-back sonic turbulence in “Trigger” saturated with an offbeat groove, symmetrical drumming and a vocal snarl dexterously fills the experimental void in the record. The last track “Reptilian” has a blackened melody most suited to the original album art which amplifies into a more corrosive tune under a veil of atonal guitars and blazing drums owing a nod to everything Converge virtually and artistically stand for.

“The Dusk In Us” lasts for thirteen straightedge hardcore anthems jarred with violent jabs of cynicism and emphatic uproars. It’s a perfect comeback after a five year hiatus as these metalcore architects storm straight out of the depths of oblivion and make a point.

“Futile wars for fruitless words,
Written by shadow kings.
Their shrapnel seeds the desert fields,
And sprouts this fear we see.
Devils do not need a hell in order to exist.”

“Reptilian” by Converge

Album Rating: 4.5/5.

Album Review: What Happens Next by Joe Satriani

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The relentless gyrations of electric guitar explode into a supernova of blues rock galore every time a Joe Satriani album drops in. The guitar evangelist is simply terrific when it comes to showcasing the endless aesthetics experimenting solely with its instrumental sensibility. This time around, he has recruited powerhouse performers like Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/ Black Country Communion) and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) to mix an album that’s poised with Hendrixian majesty to soar high into the eclectic realms of instrumental rock.

It kicks off with pistoning drumbeats and manically sped-up guitars in “Energy” navigating it towards the bombastic stomps of bass & drums and a rave-driven electric lead masquerading as hard-hitting rock numbers “Catbot” and “Thunder High on the Mountain”. “Cherry Blossom” is evocative of a nostalgic drive through your memory lane as the soft, feminine and thunderously paced guitar counterpoints interweave the outfit of a sonic mirage with tender drum pounding reminiscent of fiery Latin music. While “Smooth Soul” might sound like a restaurant-friendly song, knee-deep in the ocean of memoirs backed by sensational guitar chords which humbly plays in the background whilst adding to the general feel-good vibe, “Headrush” and “Looper” are meticulously exacted with bass-beat dynamization and kinetic excursions of electric guitar. “What Happens Next” is a traditional blues rock tune with a modern twist as it summons the intricate balance of silky leads and stalwart drums & bassline. The hazy and devious melody of “Super Funky Badass” definitely sprints it towards the direction of funk & soul modulation. “Invisible” and “Forever & Ever” are pumped up with improvisational take on the progressive exertions and sweet symphonies hand in hand allowing the maestro’s musical decorum to thrive generously. To be fair, the guitar virtuoso knows how to respect and embrace the various ethos of rock n’ roll authoritatively without uttering a single word.

Album Rating: 4/5.

Album Review: 3218 by Isidor

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An artist’s novelty is only authenticated when he intends on reviving the original sound of synthwave that has been integral to Sci-Fi movies, video games and cartoons dating back to the 80’s. “Isidor” being one of the artists hailing all the way from Serbia released their album “3218” only lately that juggles around with the extravagant 80’s synthwave, new retrowave and electronic beats. It fires off with “Star Sheriff” composed around the synth-driven angst and quirkiness reminiscent of yesteryears. The retro-styled chords and metropolitan synthesizers bounce on the trampoline of minimalism and nostalgia, incessantly. The dramatic filler “Secrets of the Universe” is a thematic interlude amidst the speedy tunes and the ongoing frenzy which puts the soaring hypnosis to rest for a while. The luxurious electronica and oddball slaps of synthesizers invested into “Touch the Sky”, “Apollo” and “Grid Surfer” forces a connection to synthwave monoliths like Electric Youth, Anoraak and Kavisnky. The buoyant melody of “Stardust” is mindlessly driven into a directionless oblivion uninhibited by the blaring synths. “Timeline” is definitely a highlight for me in this record that savors the trademark groove of the 80’s and slithering guitars. The ruthless assault of ambient synthesizers and dynamic bass condenses into a sonic aura that’s glutted with intergalactic elusiveness and luster. “The Last Geisha” swivels around booming acoustics and thick electronic conjunctures that manifests into a repetitive melody which manages to keep you hooked regardless. While the overall monotony might not reward an untrained ear as much, the record still has a cohesive arrangement and explosive soundscapes that the fans of the genre would definitely find appealing. “3128” pretty much feels like a propulsive journey through the fluorescent clouds of cosmic dust with a flashy and flamboyant soundtrack sketching the adventurous ascent into the fabric of infinity.

Album Rating: 3/5.