Following a viral campaign in which strange Reflektor graffiti was turning up all over the globe, the band recently released a video teaser announcing that the first official taste of the new album would be released on 999 – September 9th at 9pm.
Now it turns out that the global premiere of a new single and video, directed by Anton Corbjin, has been slightly upstaged as the new Arcade Fire track leaked online over the weekend.
The new Arcade Fire single, titled ‘Reflektor’, began turning up on blogs and music sites all over the internet from Saturday night. The tune is a daring eight-minute long jam that shows the band’s usual lyrical themes, but against a new sound that has the clear LCD Soundsystem influence of Reflektor producer James Murphy, with a stronger use of percussion and disco grooves; but the biggest surprise is a short but distinctive cameo from David Bowie – or at least someone that sounds remarkably like him without official confirmation.
UK tabloid The Sun claimed that the music icon had made an appearance in the studio for Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, noting that Bowie joined the band and James Murphy for a session at New York’s Electric Lady Studios for the album. It’s not the first time the parties have collaborated, Bowie has noted his fandom since the release of Funeral back in 2004 and even released a live EP with the band in 2005.
In any case, ‘Reflektor’ features vocals of someone who sounds a hell of a lot like Bowie (at around the 4.50m mark, and there’s also lashings of saxophone, so perhaps the 66-year-old chameleon dusted off the old horn for the sessions too). The track features Win Butler and Régine Chassagne trading lead vocals (and singing in French) over a funkified sonic soup that recalls Talking Heads mixed with Arcade Fire’s own track, ‘Sprawl II’ from their last record, the 2010 Grammy Award-winning The Suburbs.
A 12” vinyl of the ‘Reflektor’ single, under the title of The Reflektors, has also begun turning up in select record stores around the world as part of the viral campaign, with a global map set up at thereflektors.com showing where some of the rare vinyl singles can be found, including in Sydney, Australia. As Stereogum points out, the 12” single features colourful, holographic artwork – with no mention of Arcade Fire – and what looks to be a 14-song tracklist, but is actually the lyrics to the new single.
Meanwhile, music blog The Main reports that Arcade Fire played a secret show under the name The Reflektors in their native Motreal at a salsa club recently, premiering their new material live to a small audience. The Main called the gig, which apparently banned all use of mobile phones, to be “unexpectedly dance-oriented, due to the upbeat rhythms of conga drums and electronic flourishes alongside their most poppy sounds.”
The band played a similarly secret gig late last year in which the band played new material that twitter account @ArcadeFireTube described with: “Heavy use of percussion/rhythm section / Only 1 slow song / 1 punk rock-ish song / A 7-8 minute song opened the show;” offering a further hint to the sound of the new Arcade Fire album.
Attendees at the 2014 Big Day Out will be among the first in the world to hear and see Arcade Fire’s new live show following the release of Reflektor in October, which thankfully won’t clash with the other two big headliners, Pearl Jam and Blur, which means you can enjoy what seems to be their disco-fied new tunes without fear of missing out on your dose of grunge and Britpop.