Fresh from a successful album and tour, plus with his other side project Lunatic Soul on hiatus, Riverside main man Mariusz Duda continues with his ventures into exploring a series of ever-widening sounds using an electronic soundscape – and has come up with an album examining what is shaping up to be the social and political revolution of the future. But while AFR AI D looks at the idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a “disruptor,” it’s also an album looking at AI from a positive perspective, rather than as something to be afraid of. Duda states “Contrary to what the title suggests, I’m not afraid of new technologies. AI is simply a tool which, over time, we’ll learn to use in a better way”.
It says something about how Duda has approached the presentation of this new album as, unlike bands as soulless and sonically monotonous as Kraftwerk, he’s injected feelings almost of warmth and humanity into the sounds created. It’s a wholly instrumental album, making effective usage of synths, with everything played by Mariusz Duda, alongside some additional guitar work by Mateusz Owczarek on ominous-sounding tracks like ‘Taming Nightmares’. The ambience gives it all the feeling this could be the soundtrack to a surreal film, but it’s also an album the listener can become immersed in. With leanings towards prog on tracks which Riverside might even have performed, like ‘Fake Me Deep Murf’ and ‘Bots Party,’ possibly the most ‘musical’ track, with rock guitar woven around an electronic beat. There are hints of Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn on the beautifully melodic ‘I’d Love To Chat With You,’ which’s been released as a single, with its dreamy ambience making it a very evocative piece of music. Overall, the album consists of a whole series of changing moods, rhythms and sound patterns, skilfully woven together, and these sounds are combined together to convey a wide range of different feelings.
AFR AI D isn’t an easy listen as Mariusz Duda is asking his listeners to think about something, and it’s tempting to place Mariusz Duda alongside prog luminaries like Steven Wilson, as both are artists who’re prepared to defy expectations and give their fans something to think about, instead of more of the same. As was said, “in a world where truth is often camouflaged by deception, the electronic heartbeat of AFR AI D can never lie .. or can it?”