Riverside faced the worst tragedy possible with the passing of guitarist Piotr Grudziński on February 21st. The band was working on what would become “Eye of the Soundscape.” Grudziński’s death not only put this album’s future in question but also the band’s future as well. The three surviving members completed this album as a tribute to their late friend and recently confirmed that they will continue as a three piece with guest guitarists.
“Eye of the Soundscape” is unlike any previous Riverside album. It does include the bonus material from the last two albums. Both parts of “The Night Session” from “Shrine of New Generation Slaves” and the Day Session tracks from “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” are all here, so if you are familiar with any of that material, you have a good idea of what to expect from the remainder. I loved each of those with “The Night Sessions” being particularly haunting.
Besides those existing tracks, the band remixed two previous songs (“Rapid Eye Movement” and “Rainbow Trip”) giving each track a new life in a more ambient arrangement. Four brand new songs were composed for the album, “Where The River Flows”, “Shine”, “Sleepwalkers” and the title track. The result is more akin to Lunatic Soul’s “Impressions” album than anything the band has done. It’s also a somewhat somber yet uplifting set.
The band are known for great melodies and each track has plenty of that. While this album isn’t about lyrics, it does feature Mariusz Duda’s wonderful voice as an instrument, like on “Where the River Flows.” “Shine” lets fans hear Grudziński’s gorgeous guitar tone one more time. It’s also a great showcase for the VERY underrated Michał Łapaj on keyboards.
Both remixes are very interesting because they vary quite a bit from the originals, which really is the whole point of this album. This is the band doing something they’ve wanted to do. This is a journey into the ambient landscape that occupies the other side of Riverside. It’s a terrible shame that Grudziński isn’t alive to witness the release of “Eye of the Soundscape,” but this is a victory of the human spirit and a testament to his legacy.