Erik Heter’s grand interview with Mariusz Duda this past summer, The Duda Abides, reawakened (or least reminded me of) much of my love of Riverside. And, that love is and never has been a shy love. I first heard Riverside sometime between 2005’s SECOND LIFE SYNDROME and 2007’s RAPID EYE MOVEMENT. I was immediately riveted by their music. Not only do I love the Polish people and culture, I love prog and rock—so what a perfect mix of things.
Frankly, if you measure Poland’s prog and art rock output through Riverside and Newspaperflyhunting, it’s hard not to think of Poland as one of the most important countries in the world when it comes to producing modern music.
What grabbed me most about the early Riverside was their ability to create rather eerily an almost natural flow of emotions in the music. All music must, at some profound level, imitate nature. It must also glorify it and leaven it. Riverside does this in spades, and it does so with mystery and appreciation. Add to this the fact that Riverside’s Reality Dream trilogy—the first three albums—told the story of a man who might or might not be crazy, and you really do have, yet again, a perfect mix of things.
As Duda explained in his interview with Heter, the last three Riverside albums—ADHD, SoNGs, and LOVE, FEAR, AND THE TIME MACHINE—have formed an unofficial trilogy rather than the official trilogy of Reality Dream. This trilogy deals with conformity, mass culture, and social media. As Dude said in that interview:
Well I have to tell you the last three Riverside albums are kind of connected again. I wouldn’t call it an official trilogy like the Reality Dream trilogy. I call it an unofficial new trilogy, I call it the Crowd trilogy, because all the lyrics on these albums are connected with social media, with the new modern life, those kind of elements that surround us these days. On ADHD and SoNGS, and the new album we’ve got this new modern language. I just wanted to take some features of our times, and that why we have #Addicted, that’s why we’ve got Celebrity Touch, and Under the Pillow, and ADHD we have this regular disc which is [a] Blu-Ray disc which is high definition and everything. And I think everything goes in this direction. Since the beginning of Hyperactive on ADHD until the final track on the new album, Found, I think there is this transition of the main hero who is just trying to finally feel positive. Maybe that’s not very original. But he is just in the moment when he realizes life doesn’t suck (laughs).
So, the big question remains, is the “main hero” the same as the one from Reality Dream? After all, it’s uncertain what happens to the protagonist of Reality Dream. The final lines of the final song, “Ultimate Trip,” read:
I have my life back
I give my life back
So, has the protagonist accepted death, or has he accepted himself?
Then, of course, you have to add in the two major EPs that Riverside have produced: 1) VOICES IN MY HEAD (2005); and 2) MEMORIES IN MY HEAD (2011). Each of these seems vital to the Riverside project.
And, given that Duda pretty much writes everything for Riverside, at least lyrically, it’s fair to incorporate his work as Lunatic Soul as well. Combined—again, a sort of perfect mix of things—Duda has created an impressive body of work over the last twelve years. One might even think of the work collectively as a book.
Part One: Reality Dream
- Out of Myself (2003)
- Second Life Syndrome (2005)
Interlude: Voices in My Head (2005)
- Rapid Eye Movement (2007)
Soulful Interludes: Lunatic Soul (2008); Lunatic Soul II (2010); Lunatic Soul Impressions (2011); and Lunatic Soul: Walking on a Flashlight Beam (2014)
Part Two: Crowd
- ADHD (2009)
Interlude: Memories in My Head (2011)
B. SoNGs (2013)
C. Love, Fear and the Time Machine (2015)
Interestingly enough, Duda concludes the last album with rather hopeful lines, lines that almost serve as a conclusion to a book. In the song, telling entitled “Found,” Duda writes:
Cut Off from the dream
Where the sky meets water
Beneath forgotten stars
I feel like a child
Found in waking life
There’s a strong sense of religious rebirth at the end of the album, as the person accepts himself and is, in a sense, baptized into a new life.
I suppose this post is all a rather bizarre meditation. But, Duda’s lyrics do that do me. They put me in a state of euphoric happiness, a state of concern, and a state in which everything around me has gravitas.
As October 2015 comes to a close, I can’t help but celebrate its three years of existence. This is the 2001st post–which, in and of itself, seems somewhat ominous. As I sat here this morning wondering just how to celebrate our third birthday and our 2001st post, it seemed (and seems) more than appropriate to celebrate the goodness that is Riverside, Lunatic Soul, and Mariusz Duda. Long may the Duda Abide!
A huge thanks to Erik Heter, to whom this post is dedicated in thanks for glorious friendship.