Review Summary: Riverside emerge from tragedy with a collection of past experiments and new creations, for fans and newcomers alike.
Riverside have been thrown into major transitions during recent years. 2015 saw the release of their most successful album yet, Love, Fear, and the Time Machine
, displaying their most melodic and accessible side beautifully. They were subsequently prepared to participate in tours across Europe and the U.S. These long-deserved triumphs for one of the finest modern progressive rock bands only add an extra layer of sadness to the passing away of guitarist Piotr Grudziński earlier this year. Riverside's remaining three members responded by pouring their hearts into what we now have here, the sprawling Eye of the Soundscape
. The band have emerged from tragedy at the height of their popularity with an epic, diverse compilation of instrumental explorations that pay tribute to their fallen brethren while looking ahead to the band’s future.
The remaining trio has stated that they will continue onward as a band without replacing Grudziński. Interestingly, they seem to have left their guitar-driven brand of progressive rock behind, at least for now: …Soundscape
being a blissful journey of ambient meditations and dreamy atmospheres. This is the only posthumous album to have Grudziński’s contributions, which are surprisingly at a minimum. Instead, ambient textures using keyboard and synthesizers are emphasized throughout. Previously released bonus songs and new compositions are included, making for an essential listen for those wanting the band’s recent experiments all in one place. The electronica bonus tracks of Shrine of New Generation Slaves
and Love, Fear, and the Time Machine
are all included, as well as new remixes of "Rapid Eye Movement" and "Rainbow Box." These two prog rock epics are now treated with an electronic coating and arguably surpass the originals.
As if all of this content wasn't enough for a tantalizing compilation, four new tracks are also present. Two of them, "Where The River Flows" and the title track, bookend the album, all four comprised of atmospheric textures with a notable absence of progressive rock or metal flourishes the band have become known for. Overall, this makes for an eclectic collection of old and new experiments that show an ever-present but previously subdued side of the band, essentially their spacier and more electronic explorations. The minimal showcasing of guitars here may disappoint fans, but Piotr Grudziński is still honored, just in a different way than one would assume. His contributions are noticeable and add appealing flavors to various moments of … Soundscape
, particularly in "Shine." The guitars and keys work together to harness a subtle, dreamy quality that recalls the more thoughtful Riverside compositions.
Where Riverside will go from here is anyone’s guess. They’ve been together for fifteen years now, formed by friends with a shared love for all forms of progressive music. They’ve been through much in the past year, and nearly ended with Grudziński’s passing. He will always be a part of Riverside, and the band have responded with a confident reassurance of who they are, in unexpected musical results. Eye of the Soundscape
serves as a fitting sendoff for Grudziński while transitioning the band to new horizons. As an intriguing reminder of the band's ever-shifting musical qualities, as well as a tantalizing glimpse into their future, this compilation should not be missed by followers of Riverside.