Having been gifted a mixtape in his boyhood years and hearing the first notes of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Van Vogt alias Rio Glacier knows: he has to make music, too. The cassette, containing among other the Dire Straits’ Alchemy, would from now on be his constant musical companion. Awakened in an old attic room in Schiers has been so much more than just passion. With the little pocket money he has, Van treats himself to his very own guitar and spends days and nights playing on it in his quite little boyhood bedroom until he finally dares to perform the Rolling Stones’ Angie in front of the assembled school. From there, Van sets off to a musical journey. Whatever corners in Switzerland he is drawn to, music is his constant companion. After several musical projects with friends and fellow musicians, he is ready to start his own project; and under the alias of Rio Glacier, he claims the stages and produces RG’s very first records. After the release of their second EP, Rio Glacier now want to get started all the more with the countless auditory fantasies they still have in store. In Summer 2020, their very first vinyl will be released, uniting both EPs Love is Home and Out of Tune.
Van’s rooftop companions can still be heard as remotely familiar musical currents throughout Rio Glacier’s records, still influencing their music. Yet those are not the only influences one hears, studying architecture has left its traces. Did he once draft houses, Van’s architectural talent is now found in his art. Songs are composed in the architecture that is his music, intricately detailed and carefully layered. Compellingly, the singer captures our ears accentuating low notes that make the audience shiver. Breathtakingly, his extraordinary vocal range touches you when he with many voices composes a backgrounded one-man choir or fabricates it into a call and response pattern. With his thoughtful and slightly poetic texts, RG transports the audience into close and remote heights. You should expect anything but cheesy pop music from this artist. Every single piece is unique in its very special way. Some have a hint of country, others are more rock and some go towards indie tunes.
The lyrics are especially important, which becomes apparent when listening closely. They are neither about Good or Bad nor Black or White. “Trying to live a good life, no sacrifice in mind. There are so many ways to live. Neither heaven nor hell, neither black nor white. A lot of things worth to live for.” In these lines out of It’s Just Life that Hurts we are called upon to think with reason and not to make logical sacrifices. Rio Glacier is about the things in-between, fascinating things expressing the multiplicity of life and making all seemingly irrelevant vanities light up. This they show in Love is Home where RG makes us feel like the only thing we need is something to make us feel home, and yet it might be vulnerable and must never be taken for granted. There is, however, more to RG’s songs than love and romance. Great parts of their music play to the importance of transcending our black and white standards. There are many ways to live, the more manifold the better.
Instrumentally, Rio Glacier shows us once again more than one facet. Powerful guitar solos and riffs underline their songs and harmonise with verses and refrains without outshining them. The drum cadenzas take the audience on a journey, riding on the back of rhythmical currents. You will not be able to repress an occasional tapping with your foot when sitting in a tram or a train. What is more, RG goes beyond simply using the classical band instruments like guitar, bass, piano and drums. Thus, in Think and do what you want a group of brass instruments gets its turn, almost blowing you away. Nor are the strings missing. In She, violins and cellos paint with tender tones an image of love, trust and devotion and let you think in their transporting power of those in your life that touch you as deeply as does RG’s ‘she’. Nonetheless, Rio do not seem to glorify reality, nor do they outdistance the truth. They simply tend to find the right words, or more importantly, the right tones that express what life is all about. Ultimately, Rio Glacier convince us to once more focus solely on the music, listen closely and at the same time they play us the soundtracks to our own multifaceted lives.
Text: Anna Morf / Translation: Sasha Vogt