Riverside - Out Of Myself

Year of Release: 2004
Label: The Laser's Edge
Catalog Number: LE1039
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:16:00

Riverside's debut album, Out Of Myself, begins with a moody, guitar and bass duet, a subtle hint of keyboards creating an atmospheric backdrop. Drums and percussion are soon added as the piece slowly builds. It's a dynamic I recall from a rather well known so-called "neo-progressive" band from the UK (whose name begins with an M). Only, Riverside portends something darker, and more metallic and then delivers that something darker and metallic (haunting vocalizations add yet another layer). Before long an electric guitar solos. Listening to this album, I can't help but think that musically the band have been influenced to some degree by Marillion, and that mostly in how a guitar lead is used, not how the lead itself is played or it's tonal qualities. Yes, Piotr Grudzinski can make his guitar sing, expressing a great deal of feeling in a single note (a la Rothery, Gilmour, etc.), but the sonic palette he uses doesn't really draw from either (at least not often). And he can play both sweetly melodic lines and dirty, chugging lines, even in the same piece (the pair of instrumentals "Reality Dream" and "Reality Dream II", for example). Interestingly enough, it's drummer Piotr Kozieradzki who thanks Marillion in the credits. But, given how Kozieradzki drums, this isn't quite so surprising, using all parts of the kit and able to play with subtlety (as in the fragile "In Two Minds").

But, this Polish quartet explores much darker textures, plays things much tighter, a little more intense. In that, I think of NovAct (whom I've also just reviewed), though they are overall less metal, though equally melodic (except for that title track). This opening track, "The Same River," is the sparsest lyrically, aside from the pair of all instrumentals. Not to dwell on the "who they sound like" topic too much, another band that I kept thinking of was Live, and specifically of their Throwing Copper and Secret Samahdi releases. There was another band was musically tightly wound (and maybe too much at times).

The instrument that sets the tone and pace is, more often than not, the bass - played Mariusz Duda, who also handles vocals and acoustic guitar. Each piece is begun by an interesting and intricate bass line, over which guitar either plays with or over, depending on the demands of the piece. On the one hand, these bass lines sound a bit similar from track to track, on the other hand, it gives the album a feeling of a suite of music - as in a concept album - rather than wholly separate pieces. But then moods and themes are repeated throughout as well, which underscores that suite feeling. The bass line does vary within a track... I'm listening now to it percolating in a Pink Floyd-like way (think "Run") on 'The Curtain Falls" while one of those vaguely Floydian guitar solos cuts across.

Must mention the keyboards of Jacek McInicki, which are often used to provide atmosphere. Their appearance in a piece is often subtle and understated, not always, but it's the bass and guitar that stand out ( even sometimes instead of the vocals). The keys are anything but subtle in the album's closer "Ok," as their wavery, organ tones provide a dreamy, almost jazzy atmosphere. Of course, a bit of brassy trombone from guest Krzysztof Melnicki adds to that hint of jazz. This is a very hazy, languid piece, that shimmers and quivers with Duda's hushed vocals.

There is a rawness of emotion here, and not just in the mellower "I Believe" - which features a nice acoustic guitar -- or the grittier vocal performance that ends "Loose Heart." This being sparse musically, of course, lends intimacy, but the direct way the lyrics are presented also feel intimate... and maybe because they deal with the personal, the internal dialog we have with ourselves, feelings and emotions that we can understand... maybe because we've been there.

It's hard to believe, really that this is a debut (I'm with Duncan there), as there is a great sense of maturity and assuredness. I feel each piece is a gem, equally worthy of your ears' attention. While there is a starkness at times, there is also a comfort to be found within confines... again I get back to the emotional territory it explores... we've been there, felt like that... whether we're ready to admit it or not.

Riverside have it all - great vocals, beautiful guitar playing, great drumming and keys... Excellent.

The Same River (12:01) / Out Of Myself (3:43) / I Believe (4:14) / Reality Dream (6:15) / Loose Heart (4:50) / Reality Dream II (4:45) / In Two Minds (4:38) / The Curtain Falls (7:59) / OK (4:46)

Mariusz Duda - vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
Piotr Grudzinski - guitar
Piotr Kozieradzki - drums
Jacek Melnicki - keyboards

Out Of Myself (2003/2004)
Voices In My Head (2005/2006)
Second Life Syndrome (2005)
Rapid Eye Movement (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin PL

Added: December 17th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.riversideband.pl
Hits: 1820
Language: english


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