Recognise the name Mariusz Duda? Nope, he doesn’t play left back for Middlesbrough – he is in fact the frontman of Riverside, Poland’s hottest prog band. Riverside have often been described as Warsaw’s answer to Porcupine Tree so, unsurprisingly, Duda’s second solo album has more than a whiff of Steven Wilson about it.
Lunatic Soul I was released in 2008 and II is more than a simple follow-up, with Duda stressing that the listener should regard the project as: “a double album divided into two single ones… a continuation but certainly not a repetition”.
Lunatic Soul is a much less mangled and aggressive beast than Riverside, Duda reining in his patented ‘prog death grunts’ and adopting a more sedate, not to say mysterious, approach. Beginning with The In-Between Kingdom, which with its ethnic vibe sounds like a Jade Warrior outtake, we embark on a journey that sounds like something Peter Gabriel could’ve created while being simultaneously tortured and under heavy sedation. The undoubted highlight is the 11-minute Transition, full swirling, windswept sounds and a half-spoken singing style that veers frequently between reflective and despairing.
With Lunatic Soul II Duda’s stated aim was aim to create the soundtrack to an imaginary road movie about a lost soul. He’s not only succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, he’s recorded them as well.