2023 (OOB Records)
When the debut album “Introspection” by the Greek prog duo Residuos Mentales was released at the end of 2018, I wrote a dazzling review for Progwereld. In it, I described their music as a blend of 70’s progressive rock, cinematic music, ambient, electronica, and elements from Greek music. Fast forward five years, and on October 27, 2023, their second album “A Temporary State Of Bliss” will see the light of day. I can’t ignore that the new album sounds significantly different from the debut. Sometimes they say ‘less is more,’ but on “A Temporary State Of Bliss,” it’s more like ‘more is more, much more’. In a grandiose manner, Stratos Morianos (keyboards) and Alexandros Mantas (guitar, bass guitar, flute) have injected Residuos Mentales sound with styles like metal, funk, and much more. It’s like musical botox, and that treatment has certainly not been in vain.
The album contains only four tracks, and together they last nearly three-quarters of an hour. Given how much happens in that time, it’s an excellent playing time. The album opens immediately with a colorful epic of 17 minutes The Stuff Of Dreams. Broadly, I discern three parts here. First, there’s a spacey opening with slurping synths, sparkling guitar arpeggios, and stately mellotron sounds, then they go into a Mike Oldfield/IQ-like section with many acoustic strums, and finally, the band presents a King Crimson-tinged section with obstinate and melodic guitar playing. Morianos and Mantas play excellently, and they know how to create captivating atmospheres. A particular moment is when Maria Tseva adds some wordless vocalizations to the music.
The Missing Part is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at five minutes, but it’s no less beautiful. This track can be described as a calm, piano-driven ballad with a heartfelt trumpet solo by guest musician Vaggelis Katsarelis.
The first few minutes of A Series Of Self-Correcting Errors (another epic that exceeds the double-digit mark) are quite bizarre. Yet, the duo always manages to avoid crossing the irritation threshold, and that’s commendable. Later in this track, there’s a monstrously cool guitar solo by George Karayiannis, and this roller-coaster principle is a delight for any prog enthusiast.
The final track of the album, Impending Catastrophe, is, in my taste buds’ opinion, like a candy jar full of prog delights. From delicate acoustic guitar playing to flashy Moog riffs and from refined piano touches to a roaring church organ, it’s a worthy closer.
Stratos Morianos and Alexandros Mantas have succeeded in delivering a strong follow-up to their debut. The change in direction is drastic and daring, and I applaud it.
© Dick van der Heijde 2023