Monday, June 6, 2011

Music with a Mind – Featuring Riverside, Quicksand Dream, Sound&Shape, and (Damn) This Desert Air

Waveriders, recently some EP's have come in that just blew my mind.  Or whatever it is that I call a mind.  This is why we started the Ripple in the first place to spread the word on artists making music like this.  All prog of sorts, each fills a different need in my music loving soul.  Check em out.


Riverside – Memories in My Mind

Poland’s Riverside have been plying their trade for 10 years now, immersing themselves in gorgeous, atmospheric progressive rock full indebted to the Porcupine Tree-vein of creativity rather than the ELP-vein of pretension.  In celebration of their 10 year anniversary and recent signing to The Laser’s Edge Records, Mariusz Duda and boys have uncorked this “mini” album that is really anything but.  Not mini on length (at over 30 minutes spread over 3 songs) not mini in songwriting ideas, not mini in stellar musicianship and certainly not mini in atmosphere.  Rarely ever escalating above a distant thunderous rumble, Riverside explore peaks and valleys of dense ethereal overtones and sinuous moods.  Never rushed, each of these prog epics takes its time in exploring Floyd-ian keyboard progressions, serpentine guitar solos, crashing crescendos and emotionally moving lyrics sung in hushed vocals.

After the swirling keyboard intro, acoustic guitars bring us into the opening melody of “Goodbye Sweet Innocence,” echoing a distant familiarity with Iced Earth’s “I Died For You.”  But whereas that song exploded in metallic fury, Riverside expand their power, bringing in bridging keyboard passages courtesy of Michał Łapaj, complex time keeping via Piotr Kozieradzki, and the spear-to-the-heart guitar of Piotr Grudziński. “Living in the Past” and “Forgotten Land” follow suit, mixing Floyd-ian space rock, jazzy inflections with muscular prog metal reaches, all bathed in one dripping wet melody after another.   A true “mini” masterpiece of prog.

buy here: Memories in My Head (EP)


Quicksand Dream – Aelin – A Story

A rare and beautiful album.  Listening to this, I just can’t help feel like I’m listening to something important.  Epic, sure, but more than that.  Quicksand Dream’s take on metal is stark, powerful, disturbing, and incisive.    Not so much metal in the traditional sense of monster chords, power, and pain, but still heavy in tone and atmosphere.  The closest reference I can toss out would be some of the better work of Sentenced, another band that didn’t do metal in the normal way, but crafted some works of ugly elegance just the same.   Perhaps they sound like early Fates Warning or Candlemass, perhaps not.
 
Quicksand Dream is the brainchild of Patrick Backlund, who plays all the instruments, supported by Göran Jacobson on vocals (and guest keyboarder Henrik Flyman).   A totally D.I.Y., effort, "Aelin..." is a concept album of magic and dreams, where the young sorcerer-to-be, Aelin, is thrown between the choices of following his heart and sail the oceans or follow the path destined by The Mighty One, to study sorcery under the supervision of the Old Sorcerer.   Epic storytelling, that never stumbles under the weight of its concept.  Limited to 500 copies.  Not to miss.

buy here: Aelin - A Story About Destiny


Sound & Shape – Now Comes the Mystery EP

It's amazing to watch a band grow right before your eyes.  To witness amazing leaps and gains in songcraft and dynamic.  Sound & Shape is one such band.  After the dynamite, complex The Love Electric Sound & Shape come racing back with an aEP burst of unrelenting, driving composition and stunning musicianship.  Each song is a mini-epic, all glued together by undeniable melodies and phenomenal playing.

More straight ahead than The Love Electric, Sound & Shape have taken their inherent power, passion, and creativity and wrapped them in melodies infectious enough to eat holes into my brain.  While the concept of employing more “straight ahead” structures may sound like Sound & Shape are playing it safe, trust me they’re not.  Each song, particularly the frenetically complex “The Sacred and the Profane,” and the beefy “Bells at Twelve” marry intricate riffs, stop-start time changes, and walls of sound into soundbites of neo-prog perfection.  Lush vocal harmonies and constant surprises make these four songs a true blessing for my iPod.

A band everyone should know about.  A band few could imitate

buy here: Facebook


(Damn) This Desert Air – Distance Waits


A while back I raved like a drooling lunatic over The World Concave’s last album, Harbor.  Soon thereafter, I received an email from one of the band members asking if I’d check out his other project, (Damn) This Desert Air.  Of course I agreed, then immediately forgot about it.  And there it sat.  For an eternity.

When I finally rediscovered the file, I hesitated to play it.  This World Concave was an artistic triumph of sublime beauty that took me eons to get “into.”  I wasn’t really in the mood to listen that hard again.  Then I hit the play button, and it all faded away.

Much more immediate than TWC, (Damn) This Desert Air is quite simply a fantastic modern prog EP.  With moments raging from inspired splendor to chaotic aggression, DTDA mix it all into the prog pot, stir that baby up, and come up with a concoction sure to satisfy even the most discriminating palate.  The gorgeous melodies I expected, as I did the intense playing and stellar musicianship.  What I didn’t anticipate was how hard this EP rocks (at times) and how immediate the songwriting is.  Forget the hard listen, songs like “Trembles” and “Your Atlantis” grab me by the cerebellum and pull my brain instantly into the music.  Complex.  Intricate. Dynamic. And beautiful.  (Damn) This Desert Air is a keeper.

--Racer

buy here: Distance Waits

Riverside


Quicksand Dream


Sound & Shape (last album)


(Damn) This Desert Air

1 comment:

Penfold said...

Well Racer, of these groups I'm only familiar with Quicksand Dream, so it appears I have some catching up to do. You certainly make all four sound really interesting, especially Sound and Shape.

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