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River - EP Review: Endless Winter

03 Jun 2019 // A review by Peter-James Dries

I’m really glad music like this is still getting made.

As a former bedroom rock star, borderline agoraphobic, and closet Goth, I appreciate the art form. Whether the goth-rock aesthetic was intentional or not, there is a dark joy in these three tracks, just in time for winter.

As an EP, an experiment, and indication of the artist’s direction, this is promising. They exhibit a cross section of River’s ability; the driving sound of Lost and So Lonely, the wintery goth drone of Endless Winter, and the infectious riffery of altogether too short Take your Freedom. The guitars are spacey and atmospheric, the drumlines are tight, and the vocals transition between guttural growl and operatic baritone. The mix is claustrophobic, which adds to the feeling of existential dread, the burden of living. With some studio sheen, these tracks would form the basis of a great album, which in this climate is destined to be underrated. Alas, like the demo scene, self-produced passion projects are a niche market.

I wonder if River hides their music and their darkness from those closest to them, like I used to. The me of my miserable music didn’t align with the jovial mask I wore in reality. It represented the darkness I had to extricate in order to maintain the illusion of coping. It was a side of me that was hard to share. And Kiwi self-depreciation meant I didn’t place value on what I was creating. I learnt late that if you don’t value your artwork, sell it, or market it, or get it out there, no one else is going to value it.

There is value in River’s music. They have a unique sound that appeals to the disillusioned like me. But I guess, if the angst behind the noise Billie Eilish is peddling was half as authentic as the depression or boredom with the mundane behind River’s Endless Winter, it wouldn’t be as marketable. Reality taints the glossy shine.

It’s as if mass media marketing determines the authenticity of an artist or their music. To the Level 7 Susceptible majority, unless you’ve seen the poster, or the music video, you’re just like they are – normal, not a star – and bedroom musician becomes a derogatory slur. Yet half the crap people are listening to is created by talentless millennial douchebags on laptops.

Every year I see the argument “Do we still need New Zealand Music Month?” Until you’ve heard of all our great music that has been relegated to the underground, like your River’s, then the answer is yes. The fact you haven’t heard them yet indicates that it’s time to reassess what NZ Music Month means and how it’s implemented.

I lament that music like this isn’t going to get the wide listenership it deserves, and the incomplete feedback loop usually created by listens and likes means there is a chance that the unheard real artists like River disappear into obscurity. Two EPs in, I urge them to continue. He’s nailed his sound and his niche. I want to see it develop. I want to hear more. Five stars.

You can, and should, find Endless Winter on Soundcloud.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About River

River is a multi instrumentalist and graphic designer. His debut solo album This Side Up and his second album Decipher were created for people thinking outside of the square.

River's third solo CD Earth Asunder incorporated poetry of dark beauty with gothic overtones and bard like progressions. River took a new musical direction on his fourth full-length album Shadows where he crafted songs of melodic intricacy with a heavier undercurrent. After a hiatus, River has released his fifth solo work entitled Silence Of The Tomb.

River incorporates a medley of various artistic styles into a cross-disciplinary musical expression. His sound is best described as alternative underground and does not lend itself easily to explanation or cross-reference.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for River

Releases

Endless Winter
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Silence Of The Tomb
Year: 2018
Type: EP
Shadows
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Earth Asunder
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Decipher
Year: 2008
Type: Album
This Side Up
Year: 2006
Type: Album

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