1. The Same River
Riverside’s “Out of Myself” opens with darkness and mystery. “The Same River” is one of my all time favorite songs. This mostly instrumental track introduces the listener to a conflicted and almost obsessive relationship that we will see progress through the next few albums. Indeed, the overarching theme for the Reality Dream Trilogy, though it may may seem otherwise, is actually love and progress towards that state of being. We get to hear both sides of this evolving storyline; from both “she” and “he”.
As we enter the story, we feel what the woman feels. She has such a longing for this man of hers: a deep need for him. He doesn’t seem to feel the same way, though. Back and forth they roll, like waves on the sea. They are always flowing in the same patterns and into the same situations: It seems hopeless at times. When they meet, ripples scatter in all directions. The flow may shift, yes; but they are always stuck in the same river day after day.
The lovers are conflicted, though. Their relationship is both light and dark. Fearful and trusting. Loving and hating. They have both fear and hope. Grief and joy. Actions and words. In other words, a normal relationship that will take work and strength and communication. Yet, does he want to stay? Does he want to expend that effort? If there’s anything “she” knows, it’s that “I’ve always loved you and I know I will always love”. Because of this, she knows with all her heart that she can do this. She wants to stay and make this love work. It’s worth everything to her. However, her deep commitment isn’t always returned.
2. Out of Myself
“I’m really scared of getting lost in real life/ So please stop asking me for more”. “The Same River” introduced us to the dark, conflicted relationship between two lovers. In the first track, we saw the longing and commitment to stay on the part of the woman, dubbed “she”. From here, though, things go deeper and darker.
On the title track for this album, we begin to hear the other side of the conversation. “He” is not satisfied. In fact, he doesn’t feel like himself at all. He feels caged and trapped, and he is falling further and further into the darkest corners of his mind. He wants to be free of the pain, the constant voices in his head, and the detachment from reality. He needs to feel like himself again. He is tired of standing alone in the dark.
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like this is all his lover’s fault. There is something inside him that is restless and empty, and she has not been able to fill it. How is it that someone so empty could be just the thing to fill the heart of another? It’s a paradox in some ways, and that is one of the core ideas behind this album.
3. I Believe
This third track from “Out of Myself” showcases one of the reasons I love Riverside. The feelings and longings that “I Believe” shares are so deep and so relatable.
“I wanna share my place to hide/ My place to feel / With You”. After experiencing the woman’s feelings in “The Same River” and then the man’s side in “Out of Myself”, the rest of the album seems to explore the man’s inner battles. He is so afraid of commitment, but I don’t think it ultimately has much to do with his lover. There is a certain insecurity in his own heart that is causing this, but his lover is definitely part of this in some fashion, too.
He doesn’t know what to make of himself anymore. His inner war is the very definition of conflict, as he himself doesn’t even seem to know what he himself wants anymore. In this track, however, he does know that he believes: He believes that he wants this love. But he doesn’t want a foundation-less love. He wants a real relationship, and this woman causes such strife within his heart as he searches for the person he truly is. She thinks everything is just fine, but he is restless.
Yes, love has caused the dark, inner journey that is about to take place over the next few albums. This journey will be rife with strife, self-loathing, paranoia, and even hate; but it is all because he so longs to share himself, even though he has built walls around his own heart to prevent that. “In this moment I believe / And I want it so much / In spite of everything”.
4. Reality Dream
The fourth track on “Out of Myself” is the first of two instrumental tracks on the album. Many people just write off instrumental songs as technical playgrounds or the like, but I feel that they usually have a purpose in the story. Reality Dream is no different.
This track, while being technically proficient, is more about mood than anything. It starts off with the sound of a ticking clock and ends with the sound of an alarm clock ringing and being stopped. These are important because this song portrays the dreary everyday life of the man. He doesn’t feel like himself, so he feels like he is actually living a dream; hence, reality dream. His world has become nothing but black and grey images of people and places in which he finds no joy, no satisfaction, and no relation. Waking up from this dream, however, isn’t as easy as hitting an alarm clock. He has to find himself before this nightmare ends.
5. Loose Heart
In this fifth track on Riverside’s “Out of Myself”, we begin to experience the truly conflicted nature of this man’s soul. He has been pining on about how he feels outside of himself; how he feels alone, weary, and misplaced. Yet, here we find him recanting a little bit.
Yes, here we find him feeling sorry and dejected. He pleads with his love to “Raise me up/ Don’t let me fall/ Cause I don’t get myself/ I feel like I felt before/ But can’t find my way”. He feels the love that he felt before, but now sees what his words have done. He can see the sorrow in her eyes; the mistrust and doubt that may be seeping into the corners of her beautiful face. The soulful notes of Piotr’s guitar soar into our ears with the tears of joy and the longing that are so palpable. Yet, there is still the fear and the pain in those notes, too.
Our man is no hero. He doesn’t understand himself, or why he feels so caged and confused. All his feelings of escape leave him, and now he just wants to find their relationship once again. He knows they can. He remembers the nights of pain and tears, but he also remembers the nights with his love. He remembers the days of strife and anger, but he also remembers the days of holding her hand. He doesn’t know what or how to feel, but he does know that she is the answer somehow. She is his helpmeet. She can raise him up. She won’t let him fall.
6. Reality Dream II
Riverside, after bringing us such an emotional and soulful track in “Loose Heart”, brings us the second of the two instrumental tracks on “Out of Myself”. This track has meaning just the same as the first, as our protagonist (antagonist?) again falls into feelings of nothingness and a life of what he feels are lies and fraud.
The track begins with the sound of a phone being dialed, and then what I believe to be the sound of the “this line has been disconnected” jingle. I think this has significance because he is trying. He really is. He’s trying to talk and to reach his lover; or, rather, he’s trying to open himself to her. But he can’t. He feels disconnected. In reality, he actually is disconnected. And, as his mundane life goes on and on, he falls further into this void of his own thoughts, fears, and insecurities. Is this relationship going to work? Or is it time to go off alone to find himself once again?
7. In Two Minds
“But if you lose your faith/ Know that I am still your friend/ And if the sky falls down/ Know that I will still support you”. This seventh track on “Out of Myself” is quite a turning point in the story. It seems to connect directly with the symbolic phone noises in the last track, as he says “another day of talking/ and I’m in two minds”. He’s tired of not being able to communicate. The feeling of disconnection is getting stronger, and he can’t pretend anymore. They talk and talk, but they never seem to get anywhere.
The lovers used to be in a fantasy. They were in the “sunset of their dreams”, the most beautiful part, yet also the part right before the darkened end. He can’t stay anymore. He will be her friend, but he cannot give his life to her anymore. “Just let me disappear”. His double-mindedness has struck again.
8. The Curtain Falls
“But I still can’t make up my mind”. This is probably the most important line in the entire album, and it appears on one of the best songs Riverside has ever crafted. “The Curtain Falls” is an ominous, sorrowful masterpiece in which we see the battle within the man as he leaves his lover.
He loves her. He really does. But something holds him back from opening up to her. From expressing. From relating. He’s bleeding and wounded to the core, but who gave him these festering wounds? Who caused him this inner pain? He knows that answer, but he is too confused, broken, and dejected to admit it. He has proclaimed himself an outcast from love and from social health. But he is confused: Is this all in his mind?
He knows that removing himself from his lover will not help him find himself, but I believe that he leaves her out of sincere love for her. He knows that she deserves better, so he resolves to fade away. He fades into the corners of his own self-pity, ambiguity, and mind. The dark and melancholy curtain falls.
Everything will be OK. Everything will be OK. The final track on “Out of Myself” finds our confused, depressed protagonist sinking into a perpetual state of darkness and despair. “What has come over me?/ Can’t believe, but your tears leave me cold/ I’m walking through the dark/ Again/ And I am not afraid to be alone/ Anymore”.
He has made his decision. He will embrace the darkness that he once feared. He will leave; and, as his lover’s tears trickle to the ground, he feels nothing. His heart has gone cold through his yearning to understand himself. Now, all he has is darkness. And sadness. He is OK with that, though. He has chosen his path; and, even though it is a dark and sorrowful one, he somehow just knows everything will be OK. Everything will be OK.
“Out of Myself” is an intensely relatable story of love, loss, inner battles, sorrow, and mental pain. We’ve all experienced these darker moments; those heart-wrenching moments of fragility and feelings of worthlessness. It has affected our relationships, our health, and our perceptions of the world around us. We have all felt the inner grind of white noise where intelligent thought and feeling should be. We have felt cold and cornered.
But do we ask ourselves the most important questions? Do we ask ourselves “why”? Why do we feel this way? Or are we content to drag out our lives like this? Riverside have created a masterpiece here that may darken our minds: It may hurt some of us to hear this music and relive our pasts. But, you know what? It’s good to see progress. It is good to see maturity and hope on the rise. The two lovers in “Out of Myself” are really in love. How do I know? She wants him to stay even with his mental battles, and he wants to leave because he knows she deserves more. That’s love, but it’s just misused.
As we explore the two subsequent albums in this trilogy, remember to feel something. The pain and emotion are so raw, and the curtain of dark resolve is firmly fallen. But you know what? Everything will be OK. Hopefully.