CD tip — "Wasteland" by Riverside

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In early 2016, the superb Polish atmospheric/prog band Riverside lost their distinctive guitarist Piotr Grudziński when he died in his sleep of natural causes at the age of 41. Though the compositional force of the band has always been bassist/vocalist Mariusz Duda, such was Grudziński's distinctive tone and linear melodies — and such was the quartet's brotherhood — that Riverside's future was understandably in question. Thankfully, with Duda doubling on guitar in the studio, they've returned with the sad, majestic and dynamic "Wasteland." While the conceptual narrative seems to suggest a post-apolcalyptic scenario, methinks this consistently great recording also servies as a metaphor for life and music in a post Grudziński era. "Wasteland" is at once lovely and hopeful and despairing; aggressively determined and sorrowfully wistful — often in twirling, simultaneous fashion. There's no act in music like Riverside and, thankfully, the new album strongly demonstrates they're one of the best and most creatively fresh bands in the world.

— Rick Koster


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