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Live Music Review Plaintive pleasure in Richard Reed Parry's captivating concepts

Richard Reed Parry
St John on Bethnal Green, London

HISTORY shows that side projects from members of major bands can be hit-and-miss affairs, though that's not the case with Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire fame, who's ditched the sing-along stadium rock of his fellow cohort to create intriguing concept albums.

His first, 2014's Music For Heart and Breath, is a remarkable slice of modern classical composition in which each note is played in time with the heart rates of the performers.

But tonight Parry showcases latest project Quiet River of Dust, which is more folk Americana a la Fleet Foxes, with On The Ground and Song of Wood standing out as  ritualistic highlights.

This special performance is part of the Spitalfields music festival, which features artists performing in some of east London's more unusual spaces and no venue can suit the plaintive atmosphere of Parry's latest record than St John on Bethnal Green church.

Performing Quiet River of Dust volume 1 in its entirety and a taster of volume 2, scheduled for release next year, Parry and his band swing from sombre lows to crescendoing highs and even manage to blow an amp in the process.

Inspired by Japanese folk myths and death poems, Quiet River is also influenced by a particularly spiritual experience Parry had while alone in the expanse of a snow-covered cedar forest in Japan, where he heard the singing voices of his late father's folk band.

He asks the audience if they've ever been out in the wilderness and felt the weight of the silence, promising those who haven't that the experience is out there waiting for them — when the time is right.

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