My Favorite Album: Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire on Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden" | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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My Favorite Album: Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire on Talk Talk’s “Spirit of Eden”

"It was one of the most striking moments of musical discovery I'd ever had—even from the first second."

Jan 30, 2020 Photography by Zachary Hertzman Issue #66 - My Favorite Album - Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney
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I found it when I was 22 or 23. Or maybe it found me. I’d been at the big Salvation Army thrift store not far from my house and someone had dropped off this crate of really amazing recordsan actual record collection of someone deep into musicwhile I was there. I started grabbing everything literally as it came through the door. There were all these old academic electronic records and crazy modern classical music and then the whole Beatles collection. At the time I was super broke, so I realized I could go sell these at the good record store, which I did and made rent for two months off of five records.

One of the random ones was Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk. I’d remembered Tim [Kingsbury] had mentioned their records to me in the early Arcade Fire days and said they were amazing. I’d filed it away in my brain, but I didn’t know anything about it at all. Besides this amazing windfall of records, I’d had this emotional day, so I remember going to shower and I had this loft with most of the lights off. At the same thrift store, I’d found these old art deco light casings that I’d bought at the same time for no reason. I thought I’d put candles in them or something.

I lived in this loft with these three guys from The Unicorns at the time. I was alone and it was super quiet, so I’d lit these candles and had this quiet moment and put on the record, Spirit of Eden, without knowing anything about it. It literally felt like a holy wind was moving through the loft. It was one of the most striking moments of musical discovery I’d ever hadeven from the first second. There’s sound before the music actually starts, like a quiet amplifier and rotating Leslie speaker. You can hear it before any notes and it’s really intentional. Then this very strange sound begins and you don’t even know what it is. It turns out to be a harmonica, but you don’t know that. It’s just this beautiful thing.

From there, the album unfurls in this way where the whole thing is one big seamless piece of music. It’s made of only six songs, three per side, but each one is completely woven into the previous one. It’s one complete song slowly revealing itself to you. Even though it gets quite massive, there’s this hushed atmosphere. I hate to use the word religious, but it feels quite religious or holy or spiritualnot like it’s inspired but that you’re actually in a church. It’s not church music at all, but I’ve never felt that from something before.

There’s a lot of instrumental work, so it feels more like chamber music sometimes. There’s also acoustic instruments featured more than electric ones, so it feels organic and alive but also beautiful and interesting and strange in its treatment of the sounds. I’d never responded with such rapture to a record before. There was an actual wind blowing through the loft and I just sat there and listened completely focused on it listening in the dark. I felt transformed by it.

I live for music and I’ve been impacted plenty by music over the years in many wonderful ways. I’ve been happily knocked on my ass many times by incredible music, but something about that record completely changed my musical paradigm.

(Richard Reed Parry is a multi-instrumentalist and original member of Canada’s Arcade Fire, whose most recent album was 2017’s Everything Now. Parry is also an accomplished solo musician. His most recent album, Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2: That Side of the River, came out this year via ANTI- and is the companion album to 2018’s Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1. Portions of Richard Reed Parry’s conversation have been abridged and edited for structure and flow.)

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]

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