River Into Lake

Rise & Shine

Out February 23, 2024

Humpty Dumpty Records

Boris Gronemberger is a key figure on the Belgian music scene. A jack-of-all-trades musician for Girls In Hawaii, Françoiz Breut and Castus, he has also enjoyed a successful career as a songwriter and composer over the past twenty years. First under the name V.O, then in recent years under the name River Into Lake, the latest in a long line of personal work.

As with his predecessors, Boris composed and recorded this new album alone, between an isolated caravan in the Belgian Ardennes and a house on the outskirts of Brussels.

Two islands, two refuges where he can take the time to develop his music, after two albums that have already paved the way for a universe of his own personal elegance, somewhere between orchestral pop and refined electronica.


From the introductory ‘Be Confident’, we find this musical signature, the choice of complex vocal harmonies, ethereal sounds mixed with more rock arrangements. As on Let The Beast Out (2019) and The Crossing (2020), the instrumentarium on this album is abundant, whether electronic or acoustic. Synthesizers and drum machines are constantly combined with guitars, percussion, wind and string instruments, as on the hit ‘Beside You’, the second track on the album.

This bulimia of forms and materials could lead to saturation. But Boris, with the elegance of an enchanter, avoids the trap of too much, preferring to disorientate, surprise and seduce us. From one part of the album to the next, we travel between synth-pop and ambient, repetitive rock and jazzy atmospheres within the songs themselves. Like ‘Drawing Cards’, the record’s melodic bravura piece, or ‘Don’t Drive into the Tree’, a sublime pop ballad whose initial form and writing, after developing, explode in full flight in a noisy electronic sweep, ending in a spectral atmosphere, amid sounds of birds and barking.


While the orchestral aspect remains a common thread running through these new songs, the atmospheric influences are more present, the rhythmic patterns more abstract, the production more synthetic. Less ebullient than before, Boris’s music seems calmer, more accomplished and, by extension, more direct. Some of the choices made, particularly the use of vocals, are more assertive (‘Let Me Watch TV’, an electronic ballad reminiscent of the vocoded Lambchop of ‘Flotus’). The vocal harmonies on this album are reminiscent of Robert Wyatt, and of Talk Talk of course, whose Colour of Spring seems an essential influence. But also Grizzly Bear, Efterklang or Sufjan Stevens; artists who, like Boris, create polycephalous pop. In their own way, the music of River Into Lake works by upheaval, superimposing and multiplying its frameworks, between acoustic sources and electronic magma, classy songwriting and sonic experimentation.


Without being a concept album, Rise & Shine is nonetheless a manifesto of coherence and demonstrates the importance of the whole, of the convex narrative that we can expect from an ambitious pop album. It’s also, and above all, a small miracle of refined writing, a bedside record that should be listened to in its entirety to be led delicately, vertiginously, towards heights of ingenuity and beauty.


Romain Benard