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Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul II CD (album) cover


Lunatic Soul


Crossover Prog

3.83 | 345 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars If you're going to do a side-project, then make sure it's different. There are far too many examples of musicians embarking on sabbaticals from their 'day job' bands only to produce something that amounts to a busman's holiday.

This is not an accusation that can be levelled at Mariusz Duda, the vocalist/bass player with the Polish progressive metal band Riverside. His first outing under the Lunatic Soul moniker, eponymously released in 2008, was "a conceptual journey to the world beyond full of reflections on transience and all we may want to leave after we pass" - that's life after death, for those who are more prosaically inclined.

As the subject matter would suggest the album was not exactly a barrel of laughs, but possessed a certain stark beauty through with minimalist ambient tones courtesy of Mr. Duda's voice and the keyboards of fellow Riversider Maciej Szelenbaum.

Maciej joins Mariusz again for Lunatic Soul II, as does Wawrzyniec Dramowicz, the drummer from Indukti, and this time it's just the three of them, with no guest musicians. On the project's web site, Mariusz states that this new album "is a sort of a continuation but certainly not a repetition", but I'm afraid that I can't agree with him about this. The tonal palette is pretty much the same - acoustic guitar, vocals and atmospheric keyboards - and the same melancholy pervades the nine tracks on this album as does the first release.

This isn't really a surprise - the two albums comprise a "diptych about the journey through the underworld" - but one is tempted to ponder on just how much further this concept could be taken without becoming too much of the same thing.

The album cover is almost a negative image of the predominantly black design of the first release - a white album to complement a black - though the textures and themes are no less dark. The opening track, "The In-Between Kingdom", is an instrumental - picked acoustic guitar, piano and almost tribal percussion together with (presumably sampled) ethnic-sounding instruments providing atmospheres. The vocals start on "Otherwhere", and it's with the songs that Mariusz really excels.

Songs amble along at a stately pace until "Escape from Paradice" (sic), which leads into the longest track on the album, "Transition", where samples abound, in a manner which brings back memories of Peter Gabriel's fourth album. The predominantly acoustic and charmingly titled "Gravestone Hill" then brings us to the final track, "Wanderings", which piles on the atmospherics and has an almost trip-hop feel to it.

If you liked the first Lunatic Soul album, chances are you'll like this one. The presentation of the two suggests that they complement each other, and that's pretty much how it works sonically, too. It's not Riverside - in fact, it's a million miles away from the band's work, except that it's the same singer - and for that Mr. Duda should be applauded in following his own muse.

For myself, I can't say I really like this album, even though I admire it. But my reasons are largely personal - there's little in the way of light and shade, and for some reason the themes just don't 'click' with me. But if your cup of tea is atmospheric, dark progressive rock, then you could do no worse than invest in this one.

amazingwilf | 3/5 |


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