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Riverside: 'Eye Of The Soundscape'
Released 21st October 2016

ian sutherland
Ian Sutherland


The whole progressive rock world and beyond were shocked earlier this year when Riverside guitarist Piotr Grudzinski died suddenly and unexpectedly. If it wasn't enough that this hugely talented player was taken from his friends, family and fans too soon at the age of just forty, it also derailed the career of his band that he had been part of for fifteen years. Lots of hard work in the studio and on the road had taken them from prog rock darlings to breaking out into wider recognition with the very song orientated 'Love, Fear And The Time Machine' in 2015.

Such a devastating loss for a group of musicians who have bonded over a period of years obviously put the future of the band in doubt and after considerable deliberation founder member Mariusz Duda has only recently broken his silence. Stating that the band had always had experimental, ambient music in it's DNA and that the idea had been formed some time ago to release a full album in this style as a sort of 'inbetween' record. The first musical release from the post Grudzinski era of the bad then is this two disc/three LP set.

This is not a follow up to 'Love, Fear And The Time Machine' but a return to the ambient, experimental kind of music that the band has enjoyed exploring for some time now. The nine tracks here are from extra songs and bonus material on singles and EPs and remixed previously released material. For the keen fan who already has all that there are also four brand new songs but all in the same vein style wise. What vocals there are mostly contain sounds rather than lyrics while much of the atmosphere is created using swathes of keyboards and it is completely the opposite to me of the totally focused song writing of their most recent albums.

Anyone looking for a tribute to the great guitar work of Mr Grudzinski will be disappointed as while there is a lot of really nice work here, musically this is a different beast entirely and the guitar mostly sits in the background providing subtle atmosphere and colour. Duda has stated though that his friend and bandmate was very excited about this project.

This album really is a bit of an acquired taste. I think that this kind of experimental music can be polarising and people will mostly love or hate it. For the discerning Riverside fan it may not be what they want to hear and it may even be that the old Riverside sound is gone for good. How the band will sound going forward is yet to be discovered.

It's totally understandable that the band have decided after their loss that the man who went this far with them is irreplaceable and they have advised that they will continue using guest players, which makes perfect sense. Those looking for a fitting tribute to the guitar genius that we lost should certainly look out for the concert that is being set up in his honour by the band. In the meantime this album is really for the collectors and fans of Riverside's ambient side only.

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