Friday, July 23, 2021

RIVERSIDE revisit past glory on Out of Myself

This album, when originally released in 2003, and now being reissued by Inside Out, announced the arrival to the world of Polish Progmeisters Riverside, a four-piece band whose specialty was a subtle blend of atmospherics and heavy aggression.

Usually, when an album’s reissued, it contains a few bonus tracks or alternative versions, but this isn’t the case with Out of Myself as, apart from a little remastering, it’s the same as its initial release back in 2003.

Riverside are a modern prog-rock experience. Yes, they have influences, like all artists, but they’re not a derivative band. On this album there are superbly crafted compositions and complex rhythm patterns, alongside some memorable playing and, in Mariusz Duda, an exceptional singer and songwriter who was to go on and make his mark, not just with this band, but also with his other project ‘Lunatic Soul.’

The music Riverside play can be described as a collision of space rock, psychedelia, and symphonic rock with an infusion of prog metal. On this, their debut album, they were immediately compared to Porcupine Tree, given their usage of the same sonic textures, though Riverside were always more about the music, whereas the Tree were usually about Steven Wilson.

It takes real chutzpah for an unknown band to open its debut album with a piece of music twelve minutes plus in length, which they do here with ‘The Same River,’ and it’s a mesmeric piece with a soft ambient intro that takes a while to hook in the listener. It begins in a manner reminiscent of the Floyd’s ‘ …Crazy Diamond,’ and it’s almost four minutes before the band kicks in, and then another three until the vocals begin, with keyboard man Jacek Melnicki providing a glorious synth backdrop.

The intensity of this track is continued right through the album. Songs like ‘Out of Myself,’ ‘Loose Heart’ and ‘In Two Minds’ shows Mariusz Duda has a knack for simple albeit effective bass riffs around which a song can revolve. ‘Reality Dream’ and ‘Reality Dream II’ are both instrumentals. On the first, there’s a degree of complex interplay between keyboard and guitar over some powerhouse drumming, and Dream II is more song structured, but on both tracks, every band member shows how well he knows his instrument. ‘The Curtain Falls’ became a stage favourite, with each player leaving the stage when their piece concluded. The closing song ‘OK’ ends curiously. The track is timed at 4.47 minutes, the music winds down after 3.40 minutes in, then there’s a 50 second silence, then a few seconds of ethereal voices .. and that’s it!

By the time Out of Myself was released, Jacek Melnicki had left the band, to be replaced by current keyboard man Michal Lapaj who joined in time to appear on 2004’s EP Voices in my Head, which featured ‘live’ versions of three of the songs on this album. Out of Myself has something for everyone .. muscular power playing, ambient background, and well-crafted songs played with feeling. This is a positive opening statement and, from here, Riverside would go on to establish their rep with several other fine albums which built on the foundations laid down here.  

Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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