Lunatic Soul was founded in 2008 in Warsaw, Poland, and to date, has released 7 studio albums, from the debut, Lunatic Soul in 2008 up to the album under review here, Through Shaded Woods earlier this year. Lunatic Soul is the creative vehicle for Marius Duda, the vocalist, and bassist for the Polish band, Riverside.
Through Shaded Woods is available as a single CD, a 2CD deluxe edition, as well as in vinyl and digital versions. The review is based on the deluxe version of the release.
Through Shaded Woods (Deluxe Edition) has 8 tracks and a total running time of just over 72 minutes (72:27) with the final track, “Transition II,” the longest at 27:45 minutes and the penultimate track, “Hylophobia” the shortest at just over 3 minutes (3:20).
Although being aware of both Riverside and Lunatic Soul and having featured tracks from Riverside on my radio show, I had never managed to “get into” Lunatic Soul releases, and I approached the review of Through Shaded Woods with no real expectations.
Regular readers of my reviews will be aware that I put a great deal of value on the opening track of releases, and am always looking for a hook, an amazing riff, basically something that “grabs your ears and shouts, Listen.”. Enter track 1 of this album, “Navvie” (4:03) and we find exactly what I am looking for. Obviously, folk-based and immersed in the more Nordic/Scandinavian folk arena, "Navvie” has a repetitive riff that becomes almost shamanic and in just over 4 minutes has succeeded in drawing the listener into a stunning mesmeric aural landscape.
Track 6, "The Fountain" (6:04), starts with a simple acoustic guitar, then Marius’s clear vocals take the track on and a piano appears in the background before moving to center stage. This is a beautiful, melodic track that flows along, carrying the listener along with it. As the song progresses there is the addition of some amazingly symphonic orchestration. Around the 4:40 minute point, there is a change to leave the piano theme to carry the track to its finale. This is another superb track from a stunning album.
The final track, “Transitions II” (27:45) is a real epic in terms of length and is a simply wonderful working and reworking of riffs and themes, reminiscent of Mike Oldfield. The original “Transitions” appears on Lunatic Soul II and initially, the opening of "Transitions II" harks back to this 2010 release. The additional instrumentation starts to suggest a change of direction and indeed, around the 4-minute mark, the “fuzzy” guitar starts the track moving into the realms of the aforementioned Mike Oldfield. For several minutes this style is maintained before moving into the sphere of New Age music, carrying the listener along with a minimalist soundscape style. The music is melodic, gentle, and intensely relaxing, before another change in style and direction nudging the 18-minute point when the piano takes on more responsibility and the other instrumentation washes in and out again, continuing the painting of an aural soundscape of gentleness, but different to that which had gone before. The track almost stops around the 21-minute mark and a very different picture comes into focus. The breathy vocals, or to be more correct, vocalizations, from Marius, float over an acoustic guitar theme and there is again a return to the folk area prevalent in “Navvie." This carries on until around 24:30 minutes when an ethereal choral section seems to appear, with an acoustic guitar theme in the background before the final section which harks back in time to a Gregorian chant before slowly fading away.
Through Shaded Woods is a superb release and well worth checking out. As I suggested early in this review, despite being aware of Lunatic Soul, I was not “into” the solo work of Marius. This album has changed my mind and I will now be revisiting the previous releases with more interest. Through Shaded Woods demands a place in many peoples’ CD collections, so grab a listen and see what you think
Jim “The Ancient One “ Lawson Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
January 22, 2021
1. Navvie (4:03)
2. The Passage (8:57)
3. Through Shaded Woods (5:51)
4 Oblivion (5:03)
5 Summoning Dance (9:52)
6. The Fountain (6:04)
7. Vyraj (5:32)
8. Hylophobia (3:20)
9. Transition II (27:45)