Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry charts new territory on debut
Richard Reed Parry of the Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire performs during their concert in Papp Laszlo Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Balazs Mohai/MTI via AP)
David Friend, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, October 9, 2018 4:52PM EDT
TORONTO -- When Richard Reed Parry travelled the world last year with Arcade Fire he often thought of ways to secretly escape.
The plan was to leave his Montreal bandmates behind, jump into a rented car and trek into nature where nobody could find him. There, he would meditate on the wilderness with a video camera in tow, hoping to capture a sliver of beautiful and strange environments usually miles outside cities.
"Basically I would hide from the band and my entourage," Parry said.
"Instead of hanging out in the hotel surfing the internet or watching a movie I would bring my little 360 camera and put it in the harbour and see what I would see."
He spent one night on the shores of Cape Cod and another day floating down a river in Germany, recording whatever caught his eye. The eclectic footage will be part of an immersive live performance of his new solo album "Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1," an exploration of ambient pop that's been in the works for a decade.
"When I started it I wasn't even working on a project," Parry, who plays multiple instruments, said of the ambient pop effort.
"With Arcade Fire taking off the way it did I didn't have a second to myself. I had this roller-coaster kind of life that was just barrelling ahead very fast."
In 2008, the band ended years of extensive travel with a tour of Japan, leaving Parry with his first chance to breathe. He began exploring the country's natural and spiritual appeal, which helped inspire moments on his new album.
"There's forest everywhere in Japan," he said. "As soon as you get out the city it's not urban sprawl it's just green, incredible hillside forests and hot springs everywhere."
Walking through areas he'd never explored before gave Parry "moments of quiet and realization" he likens to ghost experiences.
There were times where "I would really feel the presence of someone or something that I couldn't entirely put a name to or put my finger on," he said, remembering the moment.
"More than just energy. More than just the forests. I feel observed. I feel accompanied even though I'm totally alone, it's January and there's snow falling and I'm walking around in the forest."
The haunting spirituality seeps into the album especially on tracks like "Song of Wood" and "Gentle Pulsing Dust," which brush their fingertips along the afterlife while staying firmly planted in sounds of a more tangible reality, such as streams of water flowing and birds chirping.
"Volume 1 is the physical world of existence, the kind of here and now," he explained, while "volume 2 is perhaps a more liminal world. A little hazier. It feels a little less physical."
Parry will elevate the aural experience of "Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1" with the visuals he captured on the road during a 12-night residency at Montreal's Satosphere dome where the videos will be projected onto the spherical ceiling while he plays along.
The concerts will run Nov. 13-17 and 20-24.