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No note (or silence) is without purpose.

Riverside, EYE OF THE SOUNDSCAPE (Insideout Music, 2016).  Tracks: Where the River Flows (new), Shine (new), Rapid Eye Movement, Night Sessions 1, Night Sessions 2, Sleepwalkers (new), Rainbow Trip, Heavenland, Return, Aether, Machines, Promise, Eye of the Landscape (new).

It’s truly hard to know what to label Riverside’s latest release, EYE OF THE SOUNDSCAPE.  I can, however, state the following with absolute certainty: it is a truly glorious thing.  A thing of intense beauty.  A thing I very proudly own.  Two disks, 103 minutes of music, and great packaging.  What more could one want from any album, let alone from a band as exceptional as Riverside?

Yet, EYE OF THE SOUNDSCAPE is not really a proper album, or at least an album with all new tracks.  Of the thirteen tracks on this album, only four are new.  The other nine come from previous Riverside releases, generally from the special editions.  What holds them together is the ambient and electronic quality of each song.

But, wait. . . isn’t that what Lunatic Soul is for?  Duda’s more experimental side?

I suppose that it is, but it must be noted that Riverside has never been without an experimental side.  After all, consider the fact that Riverside has released its major albums as parts of trilogies.  This, in and of itself, is rather extraordinary.  The stories are complex to the point of wonderful absurdity.  So very prog.  I would assume at some point in the future, we prog lovers will simply consider Riverside and Lunatic Soul as two sides of the same band.  A project, perhaps.

It must also be noted that despite the fact that 1) 2016 has been a good (if weird) year for prog; and 2) EYE OF THE SOUNDSCAPE isn’t really all that new, it’s even more impressive that this album is one of the best releases of the year.  Indeed, the same is true of Riverside’s re-release of last year’s LOVE FEAR AND THE TIME MACHINE.  Together, they make Riverside almost unbeatable for being one of the best bands of 2016.

How odd, yet how true.

I suppose one might accuse me of simply being emotional and nostalgic regarding the death of the band’s guitarist, Piotr.  As much as I think this might influence some of my thoughts regarding Riverside in 2016, I have spent even more time than usual immersing myself in music this year.  Despite this, I still think old Riverside is every bit as good as the new music produced this year.  While anything is possible over the next month, I’d be pretty shocked if I didn’t include Riverside as one of the five best bands of 2016.