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Riverside - Eye of the Soundscape CD (album) cover

EYE OF THE SOUNDSCAPE

Riverside

 

Progressive Metal

4.06 | 83 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars Two things: Riverside's now legendary 'hard' style has always been made crunchier by the numerous references to psychedelia (hence the initial Floydian tendencies), so it was not all that surprising that they would push out a 'brighter', album with "Love, Fear and the Time Machine". But with all that Lunatic Soul sensation, it was bound to happen, a glorious monolith of pure soundscape as the title likes to imply, that defies words both as a tribute to a fallen camarade who was ecstatic about the idea but also was involved in the various demos and mixes that comprise this stunner. Piotr Grudzinski was a guitar marvel, dying way too young and at a prog concert to boot, an incredibly sad event for family, friends and fans to bear and to even fathom. This release is dedicated to the talent, the friendship and love for music that Piotr relished as a musician.

Second Thing: The Poles have, behind the initial, hard-drinking, proud bluster, a profoundly romantic heart, deeply sensitive and therefore seductive, always exploring sensorial pleasure as a source for inspiration. Maybe that is why Poles and Hungarians get along so well, 'drinking together and fighting together', goes the saying. Not coincidentally, that tradition is still very strong in musical terms, prog has always been quite fertile in both countries. There has always been an underlying sense of feeling in even their early material and all the way through even the crunchier ones, a profound sadness of spirit that may force the mind to become stronger and braver.

Side1: Lets go for a little trip, shall we? From "Where the River flows" , the suave and meditative sounds are definitely led by Michal Lapaj's artistic keyboards, now front and center, though , it must be said again, there is a LOT of incredible guitar playing on every track, laid back one moment and acerbic the next, weaving and contorting as if on a mission. Mariusz Duda has always been an underrated bassist when in fact he is a killer, as displayed throughout this pulsating affair. Two CDs worth and over 102 minutes, this is a whopper, especially when the booming bass comes in to cause some ruckus! He will also sing, actually more like wail, using his voice as another instrument to focus on and etching dreamy thoughts and images into the brain. Trippy! "Shine" starts out more experimental, almost like Yello meeting Tangerine Dream, with some The Cure-like guitar slashes thrown in for good measure. Then the groove becomes bossy yet suave, the seductive side coming out again, the bass burping along like a happily drunken sailor, still in full command of his body and mind. Outright masterpiece up next with epic "Rapid Eye Movement", a remake of a previously published and released piece. Here it gets a much slower retooling, more ambient and obscure at first, winds howling in the background, with patiently gliding sustained guitar licks slipping through the haze. They take their sweet time to bloom this into a full-blown space adventure, bouncy sequencers first, curvy percussives, and then the rapturous bass carves a clear path forward, a cosmic ride of the highest pedigree, a sublime guitar solo crowns this further with regal ceremony. A tremendously exhilarating voyage this is, with amazing interventions by all and an overall cosmic mood that recalls "You"-era Gong! The bubbly synths are very Tim Blake! There is a calming down section that only seeks to reboot the whole symphony of sounds, a clearly Saharan mini-theme, followed by a typical Floydian chugging guitar intro while the bass resumes its dance with even a stellar solo to boot before clamping down on the fever pitch. Binary, propulsive, radiant yet determined, this is sheer panacea, a world class trophy of modern prog! Ghostly and beautiful. For those of you who prefer a more experimental style, especially electronically, the 2 part "Night Session", will provide over 22 minutes of soundscapes that would fit nicely in the TDream, Schulze, and company school of electronic music. Fascinating repeating rhythms, a twangy guitar that recalls some Bond flick, adding pounding drums and an imagined purpose that seduces everyone in a different manner. Part1 is adrenaline-charged, a tempestuous obsession that keeps the effect ongoing, driven and relentless. There is no sense of imminent end, just headlong trippy psychedelia that roams and wanders, more space jam than rigid composition. It's too weird and engaging for background music, so the attention span must be intensified in order to enjoy these explorations to the fullest. Part 2 goes in a completely unexpected realm, handing over the stage to a saxophone player who will let his muse fly, blowing long and furiously.

The whole of Side 2 is pure bliss in prog regalia, each composition blending into the next one, effortlessly. The resplendent "Rainbow Trip" is an obsessive affair that has an obvious "the Bogus Man" (Roxy Music) vibe, what with the vocal 'tchik-tchickah' noises that you can't help grooving tout de suite! The hypnotic arrangement does this style great justice, as it just fumes by like a race car, hands on the wheel. Celestial? Wanna walk on clouds? You won't be obscured by any, because the sheer sonic fluffiness is bewildering. That is the appropriately titled "Heavenland" and basks in a soporific glee. The magnificent "Return" is bitingly ambient again, sliced by long and sustained guitar chords, a pulse and pitter- patter synth pings, a warm breeze back to restful reality, at rest and at peace. Again, one cannot help feeling the emotion of Piotr's unending eloquence, impressively ingrained for evermore. Another key highlight cut is the magnetic "Aether", a nearly 9 minute incursion into seductive but experimental moods, Duda stroking his bass with loopy moves, slowly erecting the sinuous and reptilian groove that takes this composition to shimmering heights, always bubbling and ominous. Boom boom! A lovely TDream flight takes it further into the stratosphere, insistent sequencers flaunting their feverish fire and blazing new horizons. Trippy indeed and refreshingly addictive, as I have listened to this quite a few times, so enthralled was I by the smile it flashed on my face. The improbable "Machines" is like Kraftwerk but in a much more organic style that has, as far as I know, few clones. So originality both in substance and musicality comes bubbling to the fore, illuminating a new but comfortable path , a sonic bath with plenty of math , clicking along like a smooth and efficient TGV bullet, a glittering ride straight into the 'Pleasuredome'. The heart-stopping sweetness of "Promise" adds not only serene respite but also loads of class, a delicately chiseled acoustic whirl into pastoral universes of unreserved beauty. The title track finale has lots of density too, certainly enough to take the slow road to nirvana , ambient beyond ambient, always with a purpose and a need, screwing deeply into the mind, releasing untold images and colours, shapes and sizes, smiles and passion.

A stubborn and demanding eulogy, unmistakably honest and profound, with all the pain that goes with losing a loved one. A labor of adoration, no atomic-sized hint of greed or disdain, so one can state for the record, that Riverside has a triumvirate of reasons for being proud of their career, their life as musicians and humans and this gem of a recording. It has everything that encapsulates the spirit, the vision and the poetry of progressive rock. Riverside has arrived artistically but will they resume their upward spiraling career? No one knows yet. And if it becomes the "John Bonham is dead, goodbye Zep syndrome", oh well. They leave on a perfect note. Strange how tragedy works, you can never predict the outcome, either salvation or despondence. Yes, it's mellow, just like life or impending death, you might as well be happy and enjoy the best that you can, the pleasures of existence. It's such a damn battle for the rest of us, every day. Spectacular and real music. RIP

5 angels

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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