Riverside – Reality Dream DVD

Riverside - Reality Dream

Over the past few years, Polish quartet Riverside have been steadily earning much deserved revere and increased popularity within the progressive rock community. Formed in 2001, they’ve released four studio LPs, including three that are part of the Reality Dream trilogy, which deals with psychosis and related emotional devastation. While a bit derivative of influences like Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, they’ve certainly come into their own thanks to their ability to combine complex music with some really great songwriting. The Reality Dream trilogy honestly ranks amongst my favorite albums of all time; not a week goes by that I don’t listen to some of it, and luckily, we now have an outstanding concert DVD to watch the band perform select songs expertly.

Just in case you’re wondering, the packaging of Reality Dream is very nice. Housed inside the glossy cardboard tri-fold are the two discs and a small booklet, which is glued to the box. It’s got some cool photos and is certainly a step up from your standard hard DVD case.

Obviously, the main attraction here is the concert, and it’s incredible. If you’re a fan of the music, all you need to do is check out the track listing and know that the songs are recreated almost identically to the studio versions, which is remarkable. If you’ve never heard Riverside (but you’ve heard of Riverside), you’ll discover some of the best music the genre has ever offered. Period. They craft incredible progressive rock music as well as beautiful, touching melodies. It’s almost redundant to suggest highlights since every track here is wonderful, but the schizophrenic complexity of “Reality Dream III,” the melodically captivating “The Same River” and the pure genius of the epic, multipart “Second Life Syndrome” come to mind. All three albums in the trilogy are given equal exposure, which makes sense since it’s really one album of 30+ tracks. Finally, and this is a very welcome exception to the norm, we actually see the band playing. On most concert DVDs I’ve seen, the director splits the action between the band and useless, annoying distractions like videos of nature or nonsense. There’s none of that here, thankfully. We want to see Riverside playing their music and that’s exactly what we get.

The second DVD houses bonus material. It begins with the encore from the main concert, which includes “Before” and “Ultimate Trip.” They perform the songs just as well as they do for the rest of the concert. There are also a series of bonus live performances at from various locations and times. They’re filmed a bit more amateurishly (from the audience at times), but they’re still in top notch quality, and I suppose it’s good that we can see the audience clapping along and showing support. The affective glory of “Loose Heart” and “Conceiving You” is replicated, as is the incredible technically of “Reality Dream II” and “Beyond the Eyelids.”

There is also the short film “Behind the Curtain,” filmed by John Via. Instead of being a typical documentary, it simply shows footage of the band back stage as they set up and rehearse, with Riverside-esque instrumental music playing (which is tranquil and captivating). It’s an interesting piece for a single view, but since it’s kind of a novelty instead of an informative piece (there’s not interviews, etc), it’ll probably be forgotten after it’s initially watched. Finally, there’s a photo gallery and credits. If those appeal to you, go for it.

If I have any gripe with Reality Dream, it’s a very small one with the menu. The intriguing image on the DVD cover is also on the menu, and with it is a very annoying sound of static as the graphic is manipulated. It’s not so bad if you’re actually browsing through the disc for a selection, but if you leave the DVD playing and walk away, it will get on the nerves of everyone around the TV very quickly. Again, it’s a very minor thing to complain about, but it’s worth mentioning.

Reality Dream is the perfect DVD for Riverside fans. It houses a lengthy performance of some of the best material from the trilogy as well as a worthwhile and interesting selection of bonuses. Riverside is not as well known as some contemporaries, but they certainly should be. Fans of the genre, and especially followers of Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater, should definitely check out their discography and this DVD. They excel at creating brilliant music and first class songwriting, all of which is capturing exquisitely on this release.