LunariaN – Refined Anomalium

 LunariaN – Refined Anomalium

LunariaN – Refined Anomalium – Album Review

You don’t often run into stories like you’ll find in LunariaN, a four-piece Experimental Rock band based out of Jakarta, Indonesia.  First of all, they’ve been on a hiatus for the past seven years.  Secondly, they were around for at least five years before that if my math is correct, given that they’ve included some tunes they originally released back in 2011, now polished up for this new album, Refined Anomalium.  Thirdly, after what sounds like it has been about a twelve-year history of the band in total, they’re just finally getting around to releasing their debut album NOW…I tell ya…these are all amazing facts that have definitely got me appreciating just how much we tend to take music for granted.  With all that goes into making it, with all that goes on around it as it’s trying to be made, with so many circumstances that are far beyond any of our control, it’s almost a complete wonder than any of us ever release a record!  So heck yeah…I applaud LunariaN for coming back to doing what they love and finishing what they started long ago…they’re journey is far from over now, and in many ways, completely beginning anew.

They sure sound like they’re on solid ground as they blast off into space at the beginning of Refined Anomalium, “Proclamation: Phantoms” is not only intense, it’s also intensely unique.  You’ll hear from the extended array of instruments involved in making a song like this, that LunariaN is much more than mere Rock, and while the tag of Experimental-anything can often feel like it implies a band is either just beginning, or even still searching for their sound – this first track will confirm how dialed-in that they truly are.  Listen to the way they kick-in to the crunch and the gripping way they move together as one as “Proclamation: Phantoms” begins…it’s an experience to behold y’all, and they play it with resounding confidence.  For having had seven years away on hiatus, you’d never know it from listening – LunariaN is a commendably tight band with plenty of Progressive instincts in how they play & write their material, while also giving you a serious dose of vibrantly colorful Alt/Rock-meets Art/Rock sound.  Listen to the instrumentation and musicianship around the 2:45 mark will ya?  I’m guaranteeing that at least half of the people reading this review right now have never even HEARD the kind of instruments that LunariaN includes into this first cut!  How often can we ever even say that?  The true uniqueness of this band is instantly tangible; their opening song is filled with thrilling twists & turns, and wild energy in abundance.

They released four singles at the start of this year as they made their way towards the official release of Refined Anomalium, with “Proclamation: Phantoms” being the first, and the second track in the record’s lineup called “Noble Mind Traveler” being the last.  Take note y’all…this is certainly how you entice people into listening – “Noble Mind Traveler” contains an incredible amount of ideas inside this one song, and the execution in this band is practically second to none.  Love the vocals every bit as much as the musicianship in LunariaN…all of these players involved deserve real credit for the awesomeness we hear.  None of the songs we find on this record would be remotely easy to play – this is complex stuff, with quick movements and an uncanny way of shifting their sound into completely different places than where it all started…I mean, it’s tough to keep up to as a listener, never mind trying to play it, you dig?  That being said…the hooks you’ll discover are everywhere…listen to that incredible piano part…listen to the way the vocals work…heck, you’ll even find them coming from the accordion in this second track as well!  Not sure if those are synthetic backing vocals or the real thing…not sure if it even matters when it sounds as stellar as it does in “Noble Mind Traveler” either!  I am in AWE of this song y’all…to think that LunariaN was away for seven years…good lord, that was back in 2016 before this world began to slip away from us all…even just thinking about it is amazing to me.  When you hear passion, skill, and creativity combined like you will in a song like “Noble Mind Traveler,” you’ll absolutely wonder why the heck you’d ever want to do anything else other than make music if you were capable of creating a song as magnificent as this one is.  While the selection of instrumentation that they incorporate is without a doubt a huge draw & reason to listen, it’s the reliability of the fundamentals in this band that seems to be an equal force in what sets them apart.  Incredible rhythm section, guitars, vocals, keys…there are absolutely NO weak points to be found in the music of LunariaN – this music has LIFE in its veins y’all.

They made a very good call in bringing back some of their older tunes from way-back-when.  Look at it this way…unless YOU have been among the lucky folks to have heard’em in the past, then these songs are ALL-NEW to us, you follow me?  You regular readers here all know I’d tell ya to keep pushing your music out there until the entire world has heard it…and in hearing a song like “Hunchback Patrol,” I can’t help but feel vindicated for feeling that way.  THIS BAND IS SUPERHUMAN…I almost don’t know what else to say!  Whatever they’ve done to refine the material, is astounding.  Theoretically, we SHOULD be able to hear the difference between a song that was written more than a decade ago and one that was freshly conceived…yet here we are, and “Hunchback Patrol” sounds perfectly cohesive and as relevant as any other track on LunariaN’s record.  A great song is never finished, only abandoned, as they say – and I’d submit a track like “Hunchback Patrol” as complete proof of that…I honestly don’t even want to live in a world where a song like this doesn’t see the light of day!  I’m stoked FOR THEM that they got the opportunity to record this after so long, and I think they’ve made a remarkable choice in bringing back material from their own history into the present.  LISTEN to this song y’all…it’s FRESH AF, like it was just written yesterday…like…my mind is blown.  It’s okay…don’t worry about me, I was hardly using it anyway…and I’d happily sacrifice the rest of its functionality to a song as good as this one is any day of the week!  LunariaN is remarkably professional…and after all the time they’ve kept themselves a secret from the rest of the world, rest assured that they’ve left no stone unturned in recording this debut album.  “Hunchback Patrol” is as brilliant as a song could potentially ever be, and a riot to experience.  From the high-end of the vocal melody in the main chorus hooks, to the low-end depth in the music surrounding it, or the innovative way that this band writes their material…it is ALL astounding, 100%.

By the time I got to “Moon Citizen,” originally released as an advance single back in February of this year, I felt like it was already time to declare this a ‘good game’ – you know what I mean?  Here I am in July of 2023…with less than half of the year to go…how would an album like Refined Anomalium not end up making my top ten list in December?  I’m not gonna say it’s been an unusually DRY year for the independent music scene, but I will tell ya that I haven’t even put an album on my shortlist for 2023’s best new sound since back in May.  Do you know how much incredible music I’d have to hear in order for a record like this one to not end up with a nomination by the end of the year?  While I would never guarantee anything like that, I also can’t help but acknowledge the fact that LunariaN is that far ahead of the competition when it comes to the creativity you’ll find on display throughout this entire set-list.  You really won’t find too many similarities or comparisons that could be made to what you’ll hear…I’d reckon the closest people might come is to cite something like the very first album by 30 Seconds To Mars…I could find a couple of comparable things between a record like that and this one here.  “Moon Citizen” makes a wicked shift in its direction around the 3:15 mark, heading into an acoustically-driven otherworldly moment to give this song its noteworthy finale.  Up until that point, you’ve really got an impressive display of musicianship, where you can hear the entire band playing with serious purpose and intent, creating a slow-burning moment that is built on a spectacular series of subtle highlights.

For as involved and intricate as it all truly is, the accessibility of music that is this complex is nothing short of admirable and a real example of how to defy the odds.  If you were to look at everything involved in a song like “Xenophobia” on paper, or ANY of these songs for that matter, chances are the average everyday listener would likely assume there’s no way that they’d be able to enjoy such complexity.  And the fear of that is somewhat justified, don’t get me wrong – usually the more that is put into a song, the less the public en masse seems to be able to get out of it in return.  That being said, true art is never really all that into compromise – and that’s what LunariaN is making – audible ART.  What will seriously blow your mind every bit as much as it has mine, is how truly interesting substance can bend the typical restrictions of accessibility in favor of the creators…as in, it’s simply because everything we experience on this record is played with such investment from every player and the music is so impressively unique, that we really don’t want to take our ears off a single moment of it.  The skill it would take for them to provide the degree of fluidity you find in the wild demands of their talents, is straight-up next level, and should entirely be recognized as such.  They all deserve a shout-out, so I’m gonna give’em one!  The incredible music you’re hearing is made by a unified force that consists of the individual talents of Rivelino Ismaya (Vocals, Guitar, Uilleann Pipes, Accordion, Irish Tin Whistle), Anink Edyson (Lead Guitar), Immanuel Willy (Bass), and Ekky Setiawan (Drums) – these dudes ALL crush it, and from the sounds of things, they have been for years, even if it’s been in times spent away from the band.  They’re back together now, and I’d be the first to tell ya that’s all that matters from this point forward; a band like LunariaN should be making music and entertaining around the clock, 24/7.  “Xenophobia” is a stunning example of the versatility you’ll find in what they do.  At the beginning, it nearly seems low-key in its energy, with a more melodically-driven beginning that is almost right on the fence of being a slow-jam for a moment or two…but by about a minute in, you can feel the song begin to shift and the ground start to give way…and sooner than you’ll realize, “Xenophobia” begins to blaze into a wildfire.  Highly memorable hooks, fired-up instrumentation, vocals that are absolutely killer from beginning to end – I’m tellin’ ya, LunariaN has ALL the right pieces & they know how to use’em…LISTEN to the finale of this cut!

“Generation On A Deadline” has the band storming into battle, building more steam steadily as it plays on.  Unafraid to take their time in order to create an epic song, you can feel the additional weight in a track like this…it practically demands to be listened to!  It even includes an odd variation of “Frère Jacques” inside of its nearly five & a half-minutes, in addition to some brief spoken word moments, and another extraordinary finale that you’ll likely want to repeat instantly.  So you basically go from what’s almost a lullaby of sorts, into a slow-burning intensity that goes on to bravely include the bones of a nursery rhyme you’re well familiar with, and into a vividly cinematic track that you can practically see in your mind as it plays.  There’s a ton infused into “Generation On A Deadline” – it’s basically its own Rock Opera, and ventures to dare to go in directions you’d never be able to predict, even after all I’ve told ya.  While it’s probably fair to say they trade a bit of the accessibility we’ve experienced so far throughout the record in terms of the strengths of the main hooks, as far as the writing is concerned, it’s still another major triumph for the band that speaks volumes on behalf of their art and their craft.  Lyrically, they’ve also proven to be genuinely thought-provoking throughout this record as well, giving you another great example on “Generation On A Deadline” – and c’mon y’all…you can’t beat the tones you’ll find in the guitars on this track either.  Like I’ve been saying, LunariaN has really got it all goin’ on y’all.

The most you’re going to find me conceding to ya, is that I’d listen to an argument that “Anti-Sigma” is probably the closest to a ‘normal’ tune that you’re gonna find on this record…and I’d still tell ya that it takes a tremendous amount of hard-work and effort to make a song as well-rounded & flawless as it is.  Of all the ingredients involved, I think it’s the vocals that make the biggest impact this time around, and give “Anti-Sigma” its most memorable highlights.  Going from a direct and intense pattern in the verses, to a delicate and gentle approach to the first part of the chorus, it’s awesome to hear Ismaya gather his strength for the latter half and really make “Anti-Sigma” become something special.  Of course, I’m not trying to nitpick on what’s been an extraordinary record by every measure…they’ve just left me no real choice given that everything has come out so strong.  Honestly, I think it’s a testament to what they’ve accomplished so far that even what appears to be a more straightforward track for such a skilled & progressive band comes out as bulletproof & entertaining as “Anti-Sigma” does.  And c’mon y’all – the wild solos and instrumentation you’ll discover around the 2:15 mark are practically beyond compare – when LunariaN fires it up, you feel it, and when the dial back the intensity into melody, you go with’em willingly.  The diversity in their sound, and their attention to the finest details are second to none, and as a result, you get moments like “Anti-Sigma” that might sound more comparable to something you’ve heard in the past, but also prove they get the maximum results out of anything they set their mind to.  The accessibility that might have been lacking in a more artistic endeavor like “Generation On A Deadline” beforehand for instance, is fully restored in a track like “Anti-Sigma” that everyone will dig, and they really do that without having to noticeably compromise anything at all.  “Anti-Sigma” might appear like more of a straightforward tune in many ways, but it’s still a compelling track that’s exciting to listen to…there’s still a lot of me that would personally side with it being one of the album’s best.  I’m a huge fan of the way they shift the dynamics in this song from maximum intensity to maximum melody.

What I’ve come to a loss of is, any recommendations of what I’d change or any advice I could give to LunariaN for how to do anything any better than they already are.  Maybe don’t take another seven years off?  That’s about the best I can tell them…and that a band as sensational as theirs is, is one that should absolutely be working full-time and touring worldwide.  I have zero doubt about their potential for success…they’ve got the talent, they’ve got the chops, they’ve got the IDEAS that separate them from so much of what is already out there, and they’re making a kind of Experimental-meets-Progressive Rock that really can’t help but draw people into listen.  They’re unique, but right on the fringe of all-things-Rock that actually opens up the doors of opportunity for them to play with just about anyone they want to under the sun out there in the scene today.  I can’t even imagine how amazing it must feel for LunariaN to get this album out after so long…and all I can ask of them from here is to both savor & celebrate that feeling…and as a fan from this point forward, hope that they create another one.  “A Quarter Past Sorrow” brings the band into some of their most delicate melodic terrain to end their debut album, yet the song still reveals the purpose and passion they bring to every note they play and sing.  To be truthful with ya, “A Quarter Past Sorrow” might actually remind you more of what a modern-day version of Queen could sound like than anything else…and that’s pretty damn good company to be keeping if you ask me.  They’re heavily reliant on the vocals of Rivelino to make the impact on ya in this last track…but just like they’ve shown us throughout the course of this entire record, they know how to play to the strengths of any given song and give the moment what it’s genuinely calling for.  Make no mistake y’all…LunariaN knows exactly what they’re doing and they’re in full control at all times – the material on their debut record is second to none, and I absolutely cannot wait to hear what they come up with next.  It might have taken them a lifetime to get this first album out there into the world, but now that it has arrived, it’s immediately proven that we’re going to need a whole lot more from LunariaN in the future to follow.  LunariaN should continue on with the full confidence that they’re as extraordinary as a band could be – Refined Anomalium is an awe-inspiring adventure in music.

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