Joy in the Wasteland: Riverside’s Seventh

A Review of Riverside, Wasteland (Insideout, 2018).

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Wasteland, released two days ago.

At first, I was surprised that the two best (and best known, at least in American prog circles) Polish bands named their most recent albums, Wasteland. Well, ok, there’s a slight difference. Newspaperflyhunting named its album with a plural. Still, it must be more than a coincidence. Presumably, each took the name either from the Arthurian legends or from T.S. Eliot (who took his from the Arthurian legends).  Regardless, the title fits for most of our world of 2018.

Continue reading “Joy in the Wasteland: Riverside’s Seventh”

LaserCD North American Preorder: RIVERSIDE

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Yes, a screenshot.  Just in case you thought we at progarchy.com weren’t classy.

LaserCD has been designated the official store for the North American release of Riverside’s forthcoming album, WASTELAND.  Thank you, LaserCD!

To order (and read the excellent editorial writeup), go here:

https://www.lasercd.com/cd/wasteland-import-mediabook-preorder

Rare Riverside Boxset Available at Burning Shed

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Rare box set available at Burning Shed

For the Riverside diehards among us, Burning Shed has for sale the Riverside Reality Dream Boxset, originally released in Poland in 2011, but extremely hard to find in North America.  Believe me, I’ve searched high and low for a decently priced copy here in the States.  Now, it’s available again.  Order as soon as you can.  My guess is that they will go quickly.

Burning Shed’s description:

A six cd box set collection containing Riverside’s Reality Dream studio trilogy, Out Of Myself (2003), Second Life Syndrome (2005) and Rapid Eye Movement (2007), plus the contemporaneous extras and live releases Voices In My Head (2005), Second Live Syndrome (2008) and Rapid Eye Movement II (2007).

Presented in a beautiful six panel digipak.

Pre-order for 24th March shipping.

N.B. This is the 2011 Polish release on the Mystic Production label.

To order, go here: https://www.burningshed.com/store/progressive/product/99/8523/

Latest Single: Newspaperflyhunting’s “Hours Pass”

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The first single from their forthcoming album.

Our great Polish friends, the members of Newspaperflyhunting, have just released their latest single at Bandcamp.

In continuity with their past musical approach, but armed with excellent new ideas, the band progresses properly.  Be prepared for a much proggier 1985 New Order mixed with some 1990 Cranberries mixed with the genius that alone belongs to NPFH!

From their forthcoming album.

https://newspaperflyhunting.bandcamp.com/album/hours-pass-single

Riverside’s Soundscape

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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?

Continue reading “Riverside’s Soundscape”

THREE WORDS by Newspaperflyhunting

Newspaperflyhunting, THREE WORDS EP (2015).

The band:

  • Michał Pawłowski: guitars, backing vocals
  • Jacek Bezubik: guitars, lead and backing vocals
  • Gosia Sutuła-Grabowska: basses, lead and backing vocals
  • Krzysztof Sarna: drums
  • Beata Grzegorczyk-Andrejczuk: Fender Rhodes piano
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THREE WORDS.

 

There’s something just so terribly infectious about the music of Newspaperflyhunting.

Granted, the name of the band is the weirdest thing since Annie Oakley shot three playing cards (ace of hearts, of course) at 100 yards while looking at the target through a mirror.  Yes, as with Oakley, Newspaperflyhunting brings a standard of excellence to every single thing it touches and produces.

The band’s latest EP, THE THREE WORDS, is a thing of wonder, beauty, and majesty.

Though the three-song EP has a familiar Newspaperflyhunting sound, THE THREE WORDS is different from their other releases and offers the long-time listener even new aural ecstasies.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the band’s music possesses much in common with the American and British neo-psychedelic wall-of-sound revival of the late 1980s which saw the rise and glory of such bands as Opal, Mazzy Star, the Cocteau Twins, and My Bloody Valentine.  Whatever the similarities, however, Newspaperflyhunting (as the name would suggest) is very much—maybe even absolutely—its own band.  Other than being from Poland and believing in the purity of art, Newspaperflyhunting evades any easy labeling or categorization.

At nearly 11 minutes in length, the opening track, “3 Words,” a song ostensibly about wisdom, tradition, and loss.  The song builds slowly but surely in the first two minutes, exploding at the 1:56 mark.  The voice drones (appropriately) as much as sings in a longing fashion, a plea for attention and contemplation.  The mood of the song changes numerous times through the 11 minutes, demanding the full immersion of the listener.

At just under 10 minutes, “Past Perfect (revisited),” track two, is a remake of an older Newspaperflyhunting song.  Never satisfied with the song, the band completely rebuilt it for the THREE WORDS EP.  The new version of the song is nothing short of stunning.  The female vocalist especially brings the song to life, drawing the listener into introspection as well as inspiration.

“Demolished Mansions” reflects the overall themes of the EP: the loss of tradition, replaced by heartless modernity.  There might also—though I speculate, nothing more—be something scriptural in the title, a loss and the death of God in our insane whirligig.

***

To order: http://newspaperflyhunting.bandcamp.com/album/the-three-words-ep

The band’s description of itself: “Formed in 2006 in Białystok, Poland. Prog/post/space rock. Longing, melancholy, and rays of light scattered throughout. Introspective music, disregarding trends or expectations.”  One of the most accurate self-evaluations I’ve encountered in my life.

Our 2001st Post: Celebrating the Book of Riverside and Mariusz Duda

Riverside's latest album, LOVE, FEAR, AND THE TIME MACHINE (InsideOut, 2015).
Riverside’s latest album, LOVE, FEAR, AND THE TIME MACHINE (InsideOut, 2015).

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.

Continue reading “Our 2001st Post: Celebrating the Book of Riverside and Mariusz Duda”

Riverside – Shrine Of New Generation Slaves

They like their prog in Poland.

Europe’s ninth largest country is an essential touring destination for the likes of Anathema, Marillion, Pendragon and many other well-established acts, and it is the source of much home-grown talent, chief amongst which must surely be the excellent Riverside.

If you want to know just how good these accomplished purveyors of heavy prog are, perhaps a die-hard Rush fan like me can simply point out that I saw them play live in the same week as Rush on the Time Machine tour in 2011 and was hard-pressed to pick the better of the two gigs!

Starting with 2003’s Out Of Myself, the band have released a new album every couple of years to ever-increasing acclaim, culminating in the highly successful Anno Domini High Definition back in 2009. Since then, though, things have been comparatively quiet. A three-track EP, Memories In My Head, appeared in June 2011, but we’ve had to wait until the start of 2013 for a new full-length work. It’s here now, it’s called Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, and it’s absolutely stunning.

SONGSShrine builds on its predecessor and develops the Riverside sound in a number of respects. Its carefully-chosen title is a coded signal of the band’s intent to produce better crafted songs (look at the initial letters!) and in this respect, they have largely succeeded. The band have historically been more prog than metal whilst embracing elements of both traditions, but this release sees them flirting with more straightforward hard rock and blues-tinged sounds in places. There is even a certain jazzy looseness to parts of the album. They wear these new influences well. Above all, what they’ve produced here is something that is more cohesive conceptually and more interesting musically than any of their previous work.

The variations of pace and atmosphere on display here are a delight. Fans of the harder, heavier aspects of the Riverside sound will particularly enjoy opener New Generation Slave, which turns into a real up-tempo rocker after a slow-burn beginning of plucked acoustic guitar, ponderous power chords and treated vocals. Celebrity Touch is equally powerful and even more straightforward in its approach but is marred slightly for me by overuse of distortion effects on Mariusz Duda’s voice. Lyrically, though, it’s an effective stab at the absurdities of celebrity culture: “What matters is to be in view / I am seen therefore I am”. A similar urgency pervades Feel Like Falling thanks to its pulsing synthesiser and staccato rhythm. It’s an undoubted earworm, almost a pop song, and an obvious choice for another single.

The rockier tracks are interleaved with quieter, more reflective pieces, as is common on Riverside albums. The melancholic, piano-driven We Got Used To Us mourns a failing relationship in which the participants “started to keep ourselves at a distance we could control, not too close, not too far” and “pretend we’re OK by filling up our inner space with little hates and so-called love”.  Longer tracks The Depth Of Self-Delusion and Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination) are typical of the melodic, effortlessly flowing songs that this band do so well. The former boasts a very Opeth-like minor key acoustic guitar motif and the latter’s 8 minutes and 26 seconds give ample time for some understated but excellent keyboard work by Michał Łapaj and a wonderful jazz-infused closing section featuring Marcin Odyniec on saxophone. Deprived is, in fact, one of the album’s highlights, with a vibe not dissimilar from recent solo material by Steven Wilson.

Penultimate track Escalator Shrine is the longest on the album and can reasonably claim to be its musical climax. It starts in low-key fashion with a melody picked out by Duda’s bass guitar and some bluesy electric piano, before building to a crescendo just before the five-minute mark with Hammond organ that recalls first Floyd’s Echoes and then the late Jon Lord’s work with Deep Purple. The frenetic pace lets up half way through and the last few minutes are more measured but no less epic in feel. The lyrics denounce the superficiality of a modern consumerist lifestyle: “Buying reduced price illusions / Floating into another light / Melting into another lonely crowd”.

Despite its brevity, final track Coda is anything but an afterthought; rather, this delicate acoustic piece lends conceptual integrity to the whole album by reprising the verses of Feel Like Falling – although this time the tone is more hopeful, the “Day outside grows black … Squeeze my eyes shut” lyric changing to “Night outside grows white … Open my eyes, don’t feel like falling into blank space”.

By the way, if you are planning to buy this, let me recommend to you the two-disc limited edition. Disc 2 of the set, entitled Night Sessions, consists of over 22 minutes of instrumental music, split into two parts. Part 1 is reminiscent of Mariusz Duda’s solo project, Lunatic Soul, and features sequencer patterns that bring to mind early 80s Tangerine Dream; Part 2 is more minimalist and boasts some haunting saxophone playing. It’s very different in tone from Disc 1, but it’s very good!