Reflektor – Arcade Fire’s fourth LP and the follow-up to 2011 “Album of the Year” Grammy Award winner The Suburbs – isn’t in stores until next week, but you can stream the full record now in a lyric video uploaded today that sets their new music against the classic 1959 film Black Orpheus. That and other streams of new and upcoming releases are listed below, followed by an overview of the making and promotion of Reflektor, what the connection is to Black Orpheus, the tracklist and more details.
Click Release Title To Link To Stream:
- The Flaming Lips – Peace Sword (with full EP preview, pre-order, pictures, selected lyrics and more)
- Crystal Antlers – Nothing Is Real
- Albert Hammond, Jr – AHJ EP
- Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism (10th anniversary edition packages original album alongside identically sequenced set of demos)
- Poliça – Shulamith
- Tim Hecker – Virgins
- Phantogram – Phantogram EP
- Best Coast – Fade Away EP
- Los Campesinos! – No Blues
- Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
- Cass McCombs – Big Wheel And Others
- Tindersticks – Across Six Leap Years
- Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals
- Cults – Static
- Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind
- Diplo – Revolution EP
- Moby – Innocents
- The Fratellis – We Need Medicine
- Two Door Cinema Club – Changing of the Seasons EP
- Cage The Elephant – Melophobia
- Motorhead – Aftershock
- Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
- Paul McCartney – New
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor (stream video below)
We first began hearing about Reflektor via Jeremy Gara’s interview with Canada’s CKCU 93.1 last October. The drummer revealed his band was recording “pretty much full time” in Montreal at their old church studio. “We kind of shut the door,” Gara said. “We haven’t really gone out and done anything in over a year now. We haven’t done photos or interviews or anything. We’re just working on music and growing beards and living at home a lot and going out to dinner together.” The roof collapsed and the band put the studio up for sale soon after that.
For much of the recording process details were kept strictly confidential, though manager Scott Rodger did tease early on to Music Week trade journal, “They’re in with James Murphy on three or so songs, plus Markus Dravs who is a long-time collaborator. They write too many songs — that’s a good problem to have. There’s around 35 songs with Arcade Fire, two albums-worth for sure.” The former LCD Soundsystem frontman’s history with Arcade Fire goes back years. “Before Neon Bible [was recorded] I went to Montreal and hung out with them. We talked about doing the record but it just didn’t work out,” Murphy told BBC Music 6 in 2010. “I took an extra year off but so did they, so when it was time to make [the new LCD Soundsystem] record, they were making theirs.” Additionally, the two groups released a 7″ covers split single on their 2007 tour together and Arcade Fire sang backup on “North American Scum” at LCD’s Madison Square Garden farewell concert in 2011. Final Fantasy – aka violinist Owen Pallett – is also speculated to be working with the band, as string arranger – his role on all three of their previous long players.
As it turns out, Murphey co-produced the entire Reflktor with Markus Dravs and Arcade Fire, though Murphey and the band didn’t start working together until August 2012. It was later revealed that recording began in 2011 in Louisiana, followed by sessions with Markus Dravs in Jamaica at an abandoned castle called Trident. “The castle was built in 1979, or something, by this eccentric Jamaican dude who just wanted to hang out with royalty,” Butler told Rolling Stone earlier this week. “I met a dude who was planning on turning it into a hotel, so we just rented it off him for cheap and there was nothing in there. We brought in some beds and a piano and some gear.”
The band set on a self-imposed live performance hiatus while they recorded the album beginning after 2011’s Bridge School Benefit. Last October however they returned for a secret gig at Partners in Health events in New York (resulting in the first bootleg of an unreleased song “Crucified Again”) and an unannounced secret show followed in December at Montreal’s Breakglass Studio. Playing under the name Les Identiks they debuted new material described by attendees on twitter as “fun, dance-y and groovy” and “punk rock-ish” with themes “rooted in the mid-19th century and the African American history in the US.” Don’t bother mining YouTube for footage though: the top secret show had a tightly enforced ban on phones, camera and taping. These guys really are pricks…
In September Butler revealed to BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe that the band worked with Haitian Congo players in Montreal. “It does something really magical to the rhythm section…[these] deep African voodoo rhythms are the language in Haiti, [they’re] basically how people communicate…To me the joy of making music in 2013 is you’re allowed to like Sex Pistols and ABBA and that’s fine. It’s such an explosion, anything that’s good rises to the top, and we want music that respects that.”
Butler further explained the album’s inspirations to Rolling Stone this week: “Going to Haiti for the first time with Regine was the beginning of a major change in the way that I thought about the world. Usually, I think you have most of your musical influences locked down by the time you’re 16. There was a band I felt like changed me musically [in Haiti], just really opened me up to this huge, vast amount of culture and influence I hadn’t been exposed to before, which was really life-changing.
The film Black Orpheus is one of my favorite films of all time, which is set in Carnival in Brazil. The Orpheus myth is the original love triangle, Romeo-and-Juliet kind of story. Lyrically, it’s not literally about my life. I feel like I’m kind of a bit of a sponge in a way. Like, if people around me are going through things, I find it very hard not to be empathetic. As I’m starting to get older, you just kind of see people in different stages of their lives. Like, you’re not 15. It’s not like, “I love you, baby,” it’s trying to understand men and women and trying to get to the core. I’ve never wanted to sing about “Oh, baby baby.” The first record is about your relationship with your parents and your neighbors and I’ve always been interested in those really core relationships.
I studied the Bible and philosophy in college and I think in a certain sense that’s the kind of stuff that still makes my brain work. There’s an essay by Kierkegaard called The Present Age that I was reading a lot that’s about the reflective age. This is like in , and it sounds like he’s talking about modern times. He’s talking about the press and alienation, and you kind of read it and you’re like, “Dude, you have no idea how insane it’s gonna get.”
Since completing the album the group has been busy with numerous stunts as part of Reflektor’s playful viral promotion. First they announced the release date – via a reply on twitter to a single, randomly chosen fan. Then a cryptic logo using the word “reflektor” appeared in cities around the world in August. More symbol were posted on an Instagram account – though it wasn’t until August 26th that Arcade Fire confirmed they were the ones posting the images. A large mural on a building in downtown Manhattan followed, teasing “Arcade Fire 9pm 9/9”. On September 2nd the band “secretly” released a 15-second music clip on Spotify under the name “Reflektor.” Sure enough on September 9, 2013 the band released two teaser videos for the album’s title track, lead single and announced their alias, “The Reflektors,” would play a secret show at Montreal’s Salsathèque Club that night at 9PM for $9. That same day David Bowie confirmed on facebook that he added “a brief backing vocal on the James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) produced track (no saxophone though)” to “The Reflektor” title-track.
On September 28th Arcade Fire were the musical guest for the season premier of Saturday Night Live and NBC aired a 30-minute concert special of the band directly after. The group continued to tease fans throughout October, including posts of some of their still unreleased lyrics on facebook, videos featuring new music, and more “secret gigs” as the Reflektors. Those shows at 299 Meserole in Brooklyn last Friday and Saturday saw the live debut of several new songs. Finally, and most conventionally, they stopped by The Colbert Report on Monday, October 21st. Watch Win explain himself to Stephen here.
Arcade Fire will return to Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit this weekend (webcast included), and are set to play their entire new album live from Hollywood’s Capitol Studios for NPR’s “First Listen” on Monday, October 28 at 10 p.m. In addition to a webstream, the performance will broadcast on public radio stations nationwide (including KCRW Los Angeles, KEXP Seattle, WXPN Philadelphia, WFUV New York, KUTX Austin, The Current Minnesota, and more).
2 We Exist
3 Flashbulb Eyes
4 Here Comes the Night Time
5 Normal Person
6 You Already Know
7 Joan of Arc
8 Here Comes the Night Time II
9 Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)
10 It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)