The newest recording from Riverside, Rapid Eye Movement is (like its predecessors Out of Myself and Second Life Syndrome), a must have for any serious modern-prog fan. For my money, this band from Poland can do no wrong with three excellent full length CDs and an EP under their belt. Rapid Eye Movement is among my top five picks from 2007 and that year has plenty of strong recordings.
Opening with “Beyond the Eyelids,” Riverside prove a point that no one in this band ever had to make. The track begins big and grand with great guitar work by Piotr Grudziński and keyboards from Michal Lapaj. A true star emerges in bassist/vocalist Mariusz Duda. His bass playing drives every song on this disc to another level entirely. “02 Panic Room” would not be the same without that rolling bass holding the song together, allowing the Hackett inspired guitar to play its important melody.
The juxtaposition of the drums and bass with the ringing piano on the beginning and throughout “Rainbow Box” takes control of your ear and won’t let go like an angry school teacher. I enjoy the middle eastern vibe going through “Schizophrenic Prayer.” This song is controlled chaos as it always feels like a short fuse, continually ready to explode at any moment.
Duda’s warm and expressive voice comes to the fore on “Parasomnia.” His plaintive solitary vocal begins this piece and shows his importance as a vocalist as well. Was I ready for “Through the Other Side” as they showed stylistic kinship with Pink Floyd or Camel? Not really, but it was a wonderful surprise. Here and the next song, the quiet “Embryonic,” Riverside slow down just enough to surprise you when the hard edged attack begins again on “Cybernetic Pillow.”
Being fortunate enough to see this band live, I can assure you that Piotr Kozieradzki is a monster on the drums. He’s deliberately understated on much of this recording, playing in service to the song immaculately. On the lengthy last track “Ultimate Trip,” Grudziński’s exceptional opening guitar line will stick in your memory for a long time… or at least until you hit the replay button because your going to want to hear Riverside’s Rapid Eye Movement again. Guaranteed.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on April 15th, 2008