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Lunatic Soul – Lunatic Soul II: Review

November 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mariusz Duda, bassist and vocalist for the highly acclaimed progressive metal band Riverside, released his second solo album on October 25 under the moniker Lunatic Soul. This is the second addition to his solo collection, and is respectively named Lunatic Soul II. The eponymous debut drew much praise from fans and critics alike, including here on The Golden Bird. Although the follow-up is a weaker release, it is nonetheless one to be more than pleased with.

The Music (rating: A-)

  1. The In-Between Kingdom
  2. Otherwhere
  3. Suspended in Whiteness
  4. Asoulum
  5. Limbo
  6. Escape from Paradise
  7. Transition
  8. Gravestone Hill
  9. Wanderings

There are numerous similarities between Lunatic Soul II and its predecessor. The overall laid-back tone is the most obvious. But such things as the abundance of acoustic guitar and clean vocals, as well as the heavy use of percussive instruments in addition to drums, cannot be missed. However, the first album emphasized percussion much more while the second focused more heavily on acoustic guitar. Consequently, the latter is more atmospheric and ambient in nature.

This shift in musical approach causes the music to rely on its feel rather than instrumentation. The instrumentals and arrangements are more impressive, interesting, and technical in the former album, specifically regarding the percussion. Still, the percussion is also very well done here, as are all the instruments. There are many beautifully written acoustic parts which mingle finely with the vast collection of sounds used in the record. It certainly seems as though there are many more different tones, sounds, and instruments on Lunatic Soul II, and they all are top-notch in compiling the appropriate atmosphere from song to song.  So, for what this release lacks in upfront instrumental performance, it is definitely compensated for in its wholesomeness in ambiance.

Lunatic Soul II is truly void of any major shortcomings, but there are some minor ones. In a few moments dispersed throughout the record, the arrangements seem less inspired. What is meant by this is that the phrasing of some parts only fulfills the minimum requirement to justify it having a place in the passage. As a result, it is mainly its presence that adds to the music, as opposed to its melodic output. However, this is a scarce issue in the record. Also, Duda moves towards the philosophy of “less is more” with this album. Normally, this is not an issue, but the first Lunatic Soul release shows a better balance between “less” and “more”. There is less depth with Lunatic Soul II, but more specificity. In turn, ambient music lovers are the winners while the rest of us are left with the short(er) straw.

But overall, the album is awesome, and one of the better releases of the year. Its flaws are minuscule and even discreditable for some. Compared to the previous album, it is more subtle and atmospheric. But it is a downgrade with respect to its instrumental execution, depth and value, originality, and inspiration. It is not an overly noticeable step down, but still is one nonetheless. Still, for fans of either Lunatic Soul or Riverside (or ambient music in general), this is an album to be heard.

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