As summer begins in the city, so does the longing for a weekend escape into nature. This week, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry is bringing the outdoors indoors with a 360° audio-visual residency running for 11 nights during Montreal’s Jazz Festival.
The immersive musical experience comes following the release of Parry’s latest album, Quiet River of Dust Vol.2: That Side of the River. In keeping with the themes of Vol.1, That Side of the River explores ideas of life and death in connection to natural surroundings while losing a sense of familiarity through a “darker and murkier” tone than his previous work.
While Parry describes Vol.1 as “above ground,” he says this record goes underwater to explore memories of the death of his father and leaving home during his teenage years.
“I didn’t set out to make it with that in mind,” says Parry. “But at a certain point when you’re making music, you sit back and think, ‘What is this, what does this body of work reflect, what does it contain and what ties it together?’ You realize how quickly and clearly your brain is working out these connections between things, connecting memories, processing memories or an experience that I could have never worked through in the first place.”
Parry’s Jazz Fest residency is happening inside the Societé des Arts Technologiques (aka SAT)’s Satosphère dome. The spherical venue includes 150 hidden speakers and a 360° screen, which will be showing nature videos filmed around the world by Parry over the past year and a half.
The unconventional concerts will allow audiences to “experience this whole record in an environment” while lying on mattresses or beanbags, no chairs in sight.
“If you have a thought or get lost in your memory, it just becomes this immersive place that surrounds you or surrounds your perspective,” says Parry. “The venue itself did that for me when I stepped into it. The first time I immediately knew this is where I want to present this music.”
Parry’s 360° music video for the album’s first single Lost in the Waves was filmed at SAT, providing a preview for what audiences can expect from his performances.
Additional “afterparty, late night, ambient improv” shows will take place on Fridays during the residency, featuring a number of musicians working in collaboration with Parry to complete new songs, play old ones and take in the space. ■
Richard Reed Parry performs as part of the Montreal Jazz Fest at SAT (1201 St-Laurent) on June 25–29 and July 2–6, 7 p.m., $41.75, additional 11 p.m. shows June 28 and July 5 ($22.25)