RIVERSIDE has made some impressive progress over the past few years, especially considering that this EP follows on from just two albums. Having been wowed by their debut, I can safely say that I have been among the increasing ranks of the bands fans for a quite some time, and so, needless to say, was rather exalted when “Voices In My Head” winged its way through my letterbox.
In fact, thrilled though I may have been, this particular EP isn’t completely unfamiliar to me as a friend of mine managed to get his hands on it a year back or so, by ordering it from Poland, and it is only recently that InsideOut Records have released it worldwide, and now with a video for “Acronym Love” as well as a few other multimedia goodies. Either way it feels good to have my hands on this particular slice of music – why? Read on.
For those who haven’t read my other reviews of this bands work, I should say that I am rather in love with this Polish quartet… not physically, but it’s just that the blend of influences that these guys have merged, together with an already unique ability to create such emotional melodies, makes RIVERSIDE one of the very small handful of bands that has moved me to tears at some point of other. I’m not ashamed of admitting that at all, because if it helps promote one of the most promising modern Prog bands of the last however many years, then it’s worth saying. And for those who haven’t yet heard of the band or any of their music, I’ll do my best to describe the style. It’s Progressive Rock of a MARILLION edge, which just hints at PORCUPINE TREE and the mellow side of OPETH, yet such a simple description tells nothing of the diversity RIVERSIDE possess.
Subtle keyboard sounds weave in-between Piotr’s guitar riffs, which impress without having to resort to needless technicality with which to dazzle. Speaking of which, “Voices In My Head” is much mellower than previous releases, and in fact the songs don’t delve into quite the length one would expect after having listened to “Out Of Myself” or “Second Life Syndrome”, the longest being the third track at less than 7 ½ minutes. This softer side of the band all makes the EP rather easier to digest for those who aren’t into their odd time signatures and jumpy Prog sections, and for me, even as a fan of some bands that categorise their music with such attributes, it’s quite calmly refreshing.
Onto the songs, and as it’s only a 5 track I may as well talk briefly about each one; “Us”, as a quiet introduction, is perfect. Acoustic sounds wrap around Marius delicate vocals, who displays the kind of feeling one rarely encounters in any singer. Acronym Love, is a bit more jazzy, but still in a very smooth fashion, with some drumming and (I check to see if I’m dreaming), an audible bass guitar! Well that’s a nice surprise, as too is the bluesy guitar solo – the moment which confirms Piotr’s existence with such fine-tuned style! Unfortunately the video for this song, which is included on the disc, isn’t anything special – simply a collection of live footage cobbled together – which is a little disappointing as I think such an emotional song deserves a fittingly meaningful video, perhaps reflecting the lyrical content of the song; but who am I to complain? It comes with the package either way. “Dna Ts. Rednum Or F. Raf” is probably my least favourite, but still winds the listener in, building up to create layered quirkiness, somehow addictively. The last 2 tracks (not counting the live ones), are quite amazing; “The Time I Was Daydreaming” being the most peaceful of the album, and pretty much the summing up the phrase “chill out music”, but towards the end transforms into a slightly darker tune. “Stuck Between” is probably the simplest song RIVERSIDE has ever done, and could perhaps even be considered a bit Pop, but only due to the production of the drums. That being said, the chorus is just one of the most melodically stunning I’ve ever heard.
And as mentioned before, there are 3 live tracks added on the end of the EP for good measure, simple enough proof that the atmospheres this band so seamlessly creates are not the product of overproduction in the studio – and a great way to end a more than worthwhile release. Highly recommended for fans of seriously good, mellow Prog. (Online July 15, 2006)