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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Lunatic Soul

Lunatic Soul

Review by Gary Hill

Never heard of Lunatic Soul? Well, this is a side project by Mariusz Duda who is best known for his work as the lead singer and bassist in Riverside. This album is purely amazing. It combines the moody neo-prog of bands like Porcupine Tree with space rock ala Hawkwind, world music and jazz in a tapestry that is both haunting and enchanting. This is beautiful and yet dark. Whatever you call it, I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Prebirth
Weird sound effects and loops and the like swirl around one another in this instrumental introductory piece. It gets almost jazzy when bits of melody enter. This is just a short bit.
The New Beginning
Coming in with acoustic elements, this rises up feeling a bit like early Hawkwind to me. There is a space rock element to this and it grows very gradually. It’s a wonderful piece of atmospheric modern prog. At times I’m even reminded of Tool a bit. It should be noted that this feels very organic and seems like it’s pretty much all acoustic instrumentation. 
Out On A Limb
Without dramatically changing the mold, this is powered out into new directions. I really hear a lot of Tool in this, but then again there are also major prog and space rock leanings here and comparisons to Porcupine Tree would be warranted. This does move a bit away from the acoustic direction and turns to some seriously hard edged territory at times. 
Summerland
This takes us more into the acoustic territory. That said the percussion track here seems more developed than the previous songs. I’d peg this as Porcupine Tree meets Tool and Hawkwind in some netherworld of space and time. 
Lunatic Soul
The Hawkwind and Tool aspects are gone here. This is balladic and pretty and rather in keeping with Porcupine Tree. Around the three and a half minute mark they fire out into a more hard rocking version of the central themes of the track. This gets quite powerful while still remaining very progressive rock in nature. There are some Hawk-like bits that show up here and there amidst this jam. The cut moves through several changes and variants and is not only one of the longest pieces on show here, but also one of my favorites.
Where The Darkness Is Deepest
Sound effects and other elements create a dramatic and powerful soundscape on this number. The Hawkwind elements are back in full swing here and this is dark and wondrous. 
Near Life Experience
While in many ways the general musical recipe hasn’t changed a lot here, I can make out some Pink Floyd on the introduction and this wanders out into some decidedly jam band like territory as it moves on. It’s a powerful piece of music that’s less dark and melancholy than much of the rest of the album without fully losing that characteristic. There’s a Supertramp-like jam mid-song that I like a lot. It’s got a killer rubbery bass line and really rocks out quite well. Although there are some non-lyrical vocals this is essentially an instrumental and it turns quite jazz oriented at times. 
Adrift
More like a folk rock song, this is the most unlike the rest of the music here. It’s quite a powerful number and probably the most mainstream track on show. Mind you, it’s still far from a “pop song,” but it’s accessible and quite cool. 
The Final Truth
At over seven and a half minutes in length this is the longest piece on the set. It opens with percussion and that mode holds it for a while. After a time keys and the voice join and they begin building from there. I can almost pick up a Flower Kings vibe on this, but there’s also a real retro prog feel to it. The arrangement on this is fairly stripped down, but also very tasty. In fact, we’re almost five minutes in before it really powers up with other instrumentation and textures. It evolves after that into an exceptionally potent excursion, though. 
Waiting For The Dawn
This instrumental combines the central sonic concepts of the album with world music for a satisfying conclusion to this thrill ride.
 
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