Clare and the Reasons call Brooklyn home, but after touring around the world extensively for their first two albums with Van Dyke Parks, My Brightest Diamond, and on their own, they needed a new setting - one that would make them see and hear differently. For 8 months in 2011 they lived in an apartment on Berlin's Bergstrasse, on the western edges of what used to be the East. They got a 1968 Schwalbe moped - model KR-51 - and sped around the city at a velocity the congested New York streets would have prohibited. While riding under the vast skies of Berlin, the city a blurred filmstrip of cobblestones, trees, and graffiti, they dreamed up the sounds of this new record. After months of writing under the influence of Berlin they packed up a van and drove to Haldern-Rees, a little German village, to record KR-51. In Oct-Nov of 2011, they recorded for long hours, in between bicycling in and around cow fields, under an unimaginable number of stars. The neighbors in the village brought the band homemade apple cake, and the sheep became familiar with the band "bahhing" at them in a strange New York accent as they walked past. The cows offered encouragement and fresh milk to the band.
Olivier fancies himself a goat farmer, from rural France, but instead he's a conservatory trained Parisian violinist and composer. Clare had a not-so-booming business of selling frogs by the side of the road as a child, and is the offspring of Geoff Muldaur. As a teen, Bob had the hair to prove he could play every note of Yngwie Malmsteen's guitar solos (yes, he can!). This picturesque mixture of personalities has formed music rich in imagery, resulting in their songs being featured in several films and commercials. They have shared the stage with Devotchka, Vic Chesnutt, St. Vincent, Nouvelle Vague and others. Highlights from their most recent tours are The Meltdown Festival in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, Primavera Festival in Barcelona, Moogfest in Asheville, Pop Montreal, La Cigale in Paris, The Paradiso in Amsterdam (released as a live CD), Union Chapel in London, and three trips to play in the band's beloved Japan in just over a year.
Their debut album "The Movie" had a clear warm sound with a large string section artfully arranged by Olivier Manchon, recorded in an orchestral room and mixed to tape. Collaborators of great talent stepped in; Sufjan Stevens sang a duet with Clare and Van Dyke Parks played piano on one song. On their second album "Arrow", the band experimented with more electronic elements, brass, and a stacked approach. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) lent her voice to a song. The album was a stepping stone to their newest effort. KR-51 resided at the top a very steep hill for the band, a writing process filled with heartache, raw honesty, relentless practice, and a tireless willingness to throw things away. Clare studied the way Lotte Lenya delivered so convincingly, and you may hear the adventurous attitude of early Kate Bush in Clare's writing. The great James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens) played drums on the album, filling it with crunch and bang, driving the record. Clare and the Reasons are not interested in the easy way, they are interested in the musical way. In a world of sound banks and sequencers, an orchestra made up of members of the Orchestre de Paris materialized, and was recorded live in Paris, something Clare and the Reasons consider a miracle.
The band sunk themselves into a city of many histories, a city of concrete boxes and fluted columns. Those contrasts, at times stark and streamlined, at times grandly lush, show up in the 11 songs on KR-51. They carry the meticulous orchestration and innovative songwriting Clare and the Reasons are known for, while also carrying a little more sorrow, a lot more distorted guitar, and a little more darkness of heart. Clare, Olivier and Bob were given room to contribute what only they could as musicians, in the beautiful recording studio sprouted in the middle of a vast sea of farm green. Clare and the Reasons' third album, KR-51, will be released July 10th in North America, and July 3rd in Japan. This album is their Berlin.
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