If all you knew about Richard Reed Parry was that he was the tall, red-haired multi-instrumentalist in Arcade Fire, this is not the record you’d expect him to make. But if you knew he was raised in a Toronto community of British folk musicians and dancers, and that he later studied electroacoustic composition at Concordia University, or that he co-founded the cinematic instrumental band Bell Orchestre, then Quiet River of Dust starts to make a lot more sense.
Quiet River of Dust is inspired by the British folk music of his youth, the psychedelic, electronic textures of artists like Brian Eno or Caribou, and Japanese folk tales involving the liminal space between life and death. The more you learn about this record, its sources and how it was made, the more interesting it gets. (Full disclosure: I wrote the official bio.) But it’s ultimately about strapping on headphones and becoming lost in a meditative forest of sound, an immersive listening experience that summons synesthesia.
Released on the autumn equinox, its successor, Vol. 2, will come out on, naturally, the spring equinox. Both records feature stacked layers of vocal harmonies, acoustic textures and swirls of otherworldly sounds that spin a magical effect. Guests include Little Scream, members of the National, the Sadies, Blonde Redhead and Cibo Matto.
In November, Parry performed this music at the SATosphere in Montreal, in an immersive 360° visual environment. I was lucky enough to catch it during its two-week run, and it was nothing short of stunning: the visuals (shot by Parry himself), the calibre of the live band (featuring Little Scream and one of my favourite drummers, Stef Schneider), and the entire experience. Fuck Laser Floyd: this is what kind of "rock show" planetariums should be putting on. Sadly, there are not many such venues left, outside of Los Angeles and Berlin, where Parry will be performing this in the new year. (Oct. 5)
Stream: “On the Ground,” “I Was in the World (Was the World In Me),” “Song of Wood”