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Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul II CD (album) cover

LUNATIC SOUL II

Lunatic Soul

 

Crossover Prog

3.85 | 278 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Riverside's Mariusz Duda has, like most gifted musicians, the need to outlet more than one muse, as artists in general are way more multi-intellectual that the market cares to accept. This attitude explains the yearning for different urges that go beyond 'the one that pays the bills' and Lunatic Soul is where the bassman/composer attempts to forge a more personal path, delving into darker, more atmospheric horizons that have been correctly identified by previous quote smiths as ambient, nearly gothic musical realms closer to Dead Can Dance or No-Man. Let's get one thing perfectly straight right off the bat, there is no prog- metal, no grunting, no pounding merciless beats and not even any Floydian expanses. We are squarely in the realm of electronica , as the symphonic opener 'In Between the Kingdom' attests, swirling swaths of synthesizers, slashing through the beats and then on the impressive 'Otherwhere' gentle Asian guitar strumming and minimalistic piano platforms the seductively melancholic voice straying through the wispy mood, in a almost Neo-medieval tone that is deliciously appealing. The next one up is a decided highpoint of dreamy aural visions, 'Suspended in Whiteness' augurs a wintry climate, snowflakes breaking their subtle earthward tumble , eternally unaffected by time and space, the 'tch- tch' in the back ground rekindling memories of Roxy Music's classic 'The Bogus Man', the rumbling bass groove carving gently as the drums start pounding its marshal sleet. This is a damn brilliant, astoundingly melodic, intense and satisfying piece of music that engenders a climate of reverie and numbness. Steven Wilson would definitely approve! The desolating 'Asoulum' is even more stripped down, a tired Duda vocal finds itself shrouded in echo, with disturbing lyrics mirroring the deep inner pain. The synth backwash is truly magnificent in its utter simplicity, proof once again that feelings are proggier that cascades of frenzied notes in the right context. The connections to Lunatic Soul become obvious as the tension spirals into eddying vortex of choir incantations, heightening the drama and the sacrifice. Another stellar track for the ages as it veers into reflective mists and ends in serenity. A trio of keyboardist Maciej Szelenbaum compositions segues nicely, the moody and brief semi-tropical instrumental 'Limbo' , followed by the majestic piano- led 'Escape from Paradise'. Here the feel opts for a more Middle Oriental scenario where Duda can wail in absolute quietude, especially as the tune explodes into a rather irate howl ('I know I cannot take it anymore'), fueled by some quite explosive drum work. Incredible, again! Wondering whether this album can get any better, Duda proposes to attack the listener aural jugular and unleashes the epic 'Transition', a near dozen minutes of musical architecture that encompasses a wide variety of moods and tempers, defining the very personal style he seemingly cannot totally incorporate into the Riverside catalogue. The density is crushing, as if trapped in some cottony cocoon, taking its sweet time to tenderly unravel, a forlorn vocal shuddering in fatalistic anguish and ratcheting up the sorrow. The strident section shows no apparent mercy, suturing its way into the fray with little else than fear of the unknown and doing so emphatically ('In my sunset days''). The quality of Duda's vocal delivery is way more apparent in such a context, where his troubled personality (He is Polish after all!) can exalt in its honesty. This strange contrast between beauty and despair is what makes this album so compelling. 'Gravestone Hill' is a bittersweet ballad that heaves panting, exuding delicacy and frill, a snowy interlude that is succinct and masterful. The finale 'Wanderings' is a perfect ending, e-beats swirling with ease, electric piano droplets, all held together with a truly sensational vocal from the Pole. When the real drums hammer in, the panorama of sound and experience opens its gates even wider, the approving nods from the audience bob in unison. This is a good one, people. As a devoted fan of all things romantic and melancholic, I admit I prefer this over the day gig (Riverside's debut notwithstanding). A tremendous moody selection that is perfect for reflective introspection.

4.5 madcap psyches

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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