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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Riverside

Memories In My Head

Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from Riverside, this is a set of three tracks, the shortest of which is just under ten-minutes in length. The music here changes frequently but runs in the alternative rock meets Pink Floyd vein of progressive rock more often than any other place. It’s a strong disc, but a bit flat in terms of feeling, at times, like one long song. There’s not enough variety. That said, there are moments where they change it up quite a bit, but this mellower side of neo-prog tends to lack the overall contrast that keeps music varied and interesting. Still, it’s one of the better albums in the genre, and I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Goodbye Sweet Innocence

Mellow motifs open this and then a machine like pounding rises up, feeling a little like Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine.” It starts to get heavy, mostly with waves of noisy guitar over the top, but still remains largely understated. A little before the two minute mark a keyboard sound, again Floydian, rises up. Rather than take over, though, it gives way to some backwards tracked textures. Bass guitar comes up and that’s the main backing as the vocals join. There are layers of sound over the top and this seems to threaten to break into some real alternative rock sounds from there. It works out to alternative textured prog that’s quite cool. We’re taken through a series of changing textures as this piece grows and morphs. Quite a bit of that change is gradual and organic, but then we get a noisy jam that’s rather dissonant around the six and a half mark. From there it grows out into alternative rock meets prog and world music and jazz. A cool keyboard sound fires up over the top as this jam continues in complex power and magic. Eventually it works to a modified version of the previous sounds as it resolves into the next segment. Then around the ten minute mark it drops down to atmosphere to continue. That mode takes it into the next number.

Living In The Past
Coming out of the previous piece, a gradual pounding rises up and the cut grows very slowly. Then some fusion-like sounds emerge as it builds upward. Eventually it moves toward classic rock. Then it drops down a bit for the verse and the cut builds upward again from there. A later jam brings some of that fusion sound back. Then another vocal movement gives way to a harder rocking jam. Eventually it turns out to some pounding prog not that far removed from Dream Theater. Then it drops way down around the seven and a half minute mark. It builds back out and there’s a bit of an Eastern tone to the music and it’s very distinctly progressive rock oriented as it continues working through. Several changes ensue as this continues. There’s a more melodic journey into Dream Theater-like territory and the cut also works towards some serious jazz. Then it turns heavy again. It twists and turns in great ways as they continue. This is one killer tune. Then a little before the twelve minute mark it drops way down to end. 
Forgotten Land
The only cut here less than ten-minutes in length (and only by a second), this starts with bass guitar. Eventually other instruments are added in a cool grinding jam. The vocals come in over the top, with the arrangement still pretty stripped down. Other layers of sound, mostly some cool, jazz meets classic rock guitar, come over the top of the arrangement after a time and this just keeps reworking and rearranging as it grows. They take it through quite a few changes and this is a very melodic and tasty cut that even works towards space rock later. In fact, around the seven and a half minute mark it drops to some seriously atmospheric space. A minute or so later, Floydian keys move it onward. Eventually it seems to wind down to end.
 
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