[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(240:00 2 DVD, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: DVD 1: 1. Intro 2. The Same River 3. Out of Myself 4. Volte-Face 5. Rainbow Box 6. 02-Panic Room 7. Reality Dream III 8. I Turned You Down 9. Dance with the Shadow 10. Parasomnia 11. Second Life Syndrome 12. The Curtain Falls DVD 2: 1. Before 2. Ultimate Trip 3. Behind the Curtain Documentary 4. Beyond the Eyelids Live 5. Loose Heart Live 6. Back to the River Live 7. Conceiving You Live 8. I Believe Live 9. Lucid Dreams IV Live 10. Reality Dream II LINEUP: Mariusz Duda – vocals; bass, acoustic guitar Piotr Grudzinski – guitars Michal Lapaj – keyboards Piotr Kozieradzki – drums
Prolusion. The Polish band RIVERSIDE has in a few short years established itself as a household name in the world of progressive rock. From the release of its debut album in 2003 to its third effort “Rapid Eye Movement” in 2007, the band managed to build itself a solid fanbase around the world. The live DVD "Reality Dream" was recorded in Lodz in 2008, and was set up as a special event while Riverside was on a mini-tour of their native Poland.
Analysis. I presume that most will be familiar with the musical expression of this fine Polish act, where references can be made in the direction of a band like Porcupine Tree, albeit with more of a metal touch to the overall musical expression. Central aspects of their compositions are the contrasts between hard, rough guitar riffs and atmospheric passages, provided by floating keyboard textures and atmospheric guitar soloing, referencing guitarists like Steve Rothery and David Gilmour for the latter. The same contrasting expression is provided by the vocals of Mariusz Duda, whose voice can be soft and silky as well as harsh and aggressive. These differing elements create a distinct and rich atmosphere in Riverside's compositions. It's always interesting to see how well a band manages to convey its chosen style when performing live. Perhaps even more so in these days when a skilled musician can conjure up all manners of sounds into a fully instrumented venture by himself in a relatively cheap manner, and a band can reach well beyond its skills and abilities in even a modestly set up studio due to the plethora of enhancements made possible by software as well as studio equipment. In the case of Riverside we're dealing with a band that takes its music into a live setting with ease. Musically, the performance given should fulfill all expectations of those who enjoy their studio albums. The songs are performed without any noticeable flaws and from what I can gather without any major alterations from the studio versions beyond minor and subtle details. The audio recordings hold the same high quality, capturing all details without any audible distortions and with a rich and great overall sound. But as a live act, Riverside may not be to everybody's taste, very much depending on what you crave in a band you appreciate. Those who prefer artists providing entertainment beyond playing some of their chosen material will most likely find this DVD to be somewhat lacking in this department. None of the individual musicians excel in the art of reaching out to their audience, there are no interesting or funny mannerisms to be seen, and communication between the musicians is kept to a minimum. There seems to be a total focus on performance by each instrumentalist, and apparently each knows his set list by heart as well, and sticks to it without deviations or alterations. A finely crafted stage backdrop and sophisticated lighting provide for some additional entertainment, and the cameras capturing the video footage do a fairly good job of incorporating this additional dimension of the stage show on the DVD. The show has been taped by only a few cameras though, which does limit the entertainment value to some extent. There are a limited number of angles to focus on, and those seeking entertainment beyond the musical merits of this performance will soon notice the substantial amount of repetition in the shots used. In an attempt to try adding additional entertainment value to the video footage, the producers of this DVD have opted for the use of effects filters, first and foremost by adding noise to selected parts of the images, but also by stretching the image, converting some parts to black and white or adding color filters. Personally, I find this use of effects to be distracting, but presumably this will resonate better amongst the younger part of the target audience for this production. The bonus features provided add some footage that should please fans of Riverside: a brief documentary where we're shown the preparations for the concert making up this DVD from stage assembly up to the final sound-check, and lower quality live footage taken from various concerts around the world is an addition that most likely will be appreciated too. Personally I would have liked to see their promotional video for 02 Panic Room included, especially since this is a double DVD feature. Still, those who enjoy this band get a fair amount of material to enjoy here; the value for money aspect of this outing is well above average.
Conclusion. As there aren't too many alternatives around if you feel a need for purchasing a live DVD by Riverside to choose between, this production will most likely already be safe in the collections of their most ardent fans. Those who ponder whether or not to buy this package should reflect upon what needs they'd like to fulfill prior to purchasing this item. If you desire to witness and hear the band giving a great concert you will get what you want on this occasion. The musicianship and performance are of excellent quality, and have been captured in great detail. But those who seek entertainment beyond the scope of seeing and hearing this material played in a live setting may find this venture somewhat lacking, as neither band nor footage manage to add much additional entertainment value. Unless you're an avid fan of effect filters applied to video footage, that is.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]