Video premiere: River Glen, ‘Drugs That Choke the Vein’

River Glen & Band album release show

May 5, James Theater, Iowa City, 7:30 p.m., $15-17

River Glen & Band album release show

May 7, xBk Live, Des Moines, 6 p.m., $12

Bob Ressler rendered using LEGO. – Courtesy of River Glen

River Glen Breitbach’s latest album, As Above, So Below is a 17-track release that loosely mirrors the cycle of life and required him to assemble 150 Iowa musical artists to complete.

The sixth song on the album, “Drugs That Choke the Vein,” led the Dubuque-born musician to make a music video that required a more literal sort of assembly.

“I don’t know how many LEGO pieces were used, but I can describe how we approached selecting pieces,” Breitbach told Little Village in an email, also noting that it’s unclear how much time the stop-motion project took. “Stefano [Coulter] had a couple big tubs of LEGO and the signature sets that remain built and on display in his bedroom. We built a stage/venue and used some of the sets he had already built.”

As Breitbach tells it, work on the music video began “during the height of the pandemic” when many where relegated to their homes. Breitbach’s neighbor, who had a 16-year-old at home full-time with schools going virtual, asked Breitbach to find some sort of activity to occupy her son, Stefano.

“Upon chatting with Stefano, I soon learned that he had a passion for creating short stop-motion videos with his LEGO,” said Breitbach. “Since I was still laying the groundwork for my upcoming album release/tour, I pitched him the idea.”

This particular song, “Drugs That Choke The Vein,” stood out as a good candidate for the project as the staccato of the song seemed support the stop-and-go nature of the medium. Furthermore, the song itself has something of a narrative arc that could help carry the video.

The end result is a frenetic, four-minute video — directed by Coulter — that bounces between characters and sets. There’s a wild sense of imagination at play; anything can happen in a given scene, which further fuels the party energy of the song itself. There’s a random energy to everything, yet nothing feels out of place.

Narratively, the song uses a funky, rock tone to tell a quick story of lovers meeting at a house party. Like the video that came out of it, the song never has a boring moment. Its high energy is broken up by a saxophone solo, a rap break, a closing guitar solo and plenty to occupy the ears while the video provides a treat for the eyes.

“We didn’t ‘over plan’ every detail of the video, but rather let it be somewhat random and ‘in the moment,’” said Breitbach. “After all, while it is a very fine video that demonstrates just how talented Stefano is as a director/videographer, we were also just kinda hanging out and playing with LEGO, which I hadn’t done for many years, so it was an awesome experience creating this music video.”

The track includes Zane Merritt on guitar, Michael Jarvey on the keys and Armadillo (a.k.a. Andrew Baur Schoer) beat-boxing the song’s bridge. A saxophone quartet composed of Nolan Schroeder, Nathaniel Ferguson, Jonathan Birdsall and Cole Peterson is also featured. The video is dedicated to Bob Ressler, a Dubuque musician and member of the Lonely Goats who passed away on May 1, 2022.

As Above, So Below releases on May 1.