Owen Pallett — Heartland (Deluxe Edition, April 1, 2014)
♠ He received an Honours Bachelor of Music for Composition from the University of Toronto in 2002
Birth name: Michael James Owen Pallett
Born: September 07, 1979 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Notable instruments: Violin, ARP 2600
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Release date: January 12, 2010 / 2014
01. "Midnight Directives" 3:36
02. "Keep the Dog Quiet" 3:10
03. "Mount Alpentine" 0:49
04. "Red Sun No. 5" 3:41
05. "Lewis Takes Action" 2:54
06. "The Great Elsewhere" 5:50
07. "Oh Heartland, Up Yours!" 4:07
08. "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt" 5:08
09. "Flare Gun" 2:21
10. "E Is for Estranged" 5:25
11. "Tryst with Mephistopheles" 6:53
12. "What Do You Think Will Happen Now?" 2:38
13. A Watery Day 4:01
14. ---> (Export 1) 0:06
15. Midnight Directives (Export 2) 4:04
16. The Great Elsewhere (feat. Shara Worden) 5:01
17. Tilda’s Eyes 1:42
18. Tryst With Mephistopheles (Export 5) 6:05
19. Song For Little Jan 1:20
20. Owen’s Voice 3:38
21. Red Wine and You Look Extra Nice Tonight, Jim 2:37
℗ 2014 Owen Pallett Under Exclusive License To Secret City Records, Inc.
• Written, arranged and produced by Owen Pallett
• Recorded by Sturla Mio Þórisson (except tracks 3 and 12)
• Mixed by Rusty Santos
• Mastered by Alan Douches
• Design and illustration by Colin Bergh
• Photography by Jimmy Limit
• Make–up by Allison Magpayo
• The Czech Symphony Strings
• Directed by Adam Klemens
• Recorded by Jan Holzner
• The St. Kitts' Winds
• Contracted by John Marshman
• Recorded by Jeff McMurrich, Matt Smith
• Lisa Chisholm — bassoon
• Micah Hellbrum — clarinet
• Sarah Jeffrey — oboe, cor anglais
• Leonie Wall — flute, piccolo
• Gabe Radford — horn
• David Pell — trombone
• Mike Fedyshyn — trumpet ♣
♦ With his Domino debut Heartland out January 12, chamber pop one man band Owen Pallett is dropping his video game–inspired stage name, Final Fantasy. From now on, Owen Pallett will be known as Owen Pallett — we'll have to put those bad jokes about hit points and geeks in sweatpants to rest. According to a message from Pallett, “the laws of trademark infringement exist for good reason, and so I am voluntarily retiring my band name.” Read the whole missive after the jump:
♦ I began playing solo violin shows in 2004. Although it was essentially a solo project, I named the band Final Fantasy, as the experience — and the tone of the material — was reminiscent of the hours and hours I had spent as an adolescent playing those epic JRPGs.
♦ But the laws of trademark infringement exist for good reason, and so I am voluntarily retiring my band name. In the new year, my record Heartland is coming out, and it is my first to be released in many territories, including Japan. With this in mind, I feel it is in my own best interests to definitively distinguish my music from Square/Enix's games.
♦ So, I am no longer playing shows as Final Fantasy. Subsequent releases, including Heartland, will be issued under my own name, Owen Pallett. Prior releases will sometime soon be re–packaged and re–issued.
♦ I thank Square/Enix their kindness and support, and I thank you all for your understanding. Salud! Owen
By Matthew Cole, on January 11, 2010
♣ With Heartland, Owen Pallett officially lays the Final Fantasy moniker to rest, marking the first time that the quietly prolific Canadian has released any material under his given name — unless you count his Twitter account, which is similarly prolific.
♠ It's a major step toward the spotlight for a gifted performer and composer who managed to maintain a low profile while enjoying a phenomenally successful decade.
♠ Aside from his own releases as Final Fantasy, the last of which netted him Canada's prestigious Polaris Prize, Pallett spent the aughts touring as a violinist with Arcade Fire and arranging the gushing strings that lie at the melodramatic heart of the band's "Rebellion (Lies)" and "No Cars Go."
♠ He's also used his compositional skills to jazz up everything from Beirut's Euro–folk reinterpretations (The Flying Cub Cup) to Fucked Up's bracing, experimental hardcore (Hidden World), not to mention remixing tracks for Stars, Grizzly Bear, and others.
♠ But Pallett couldn't have picked a better record to affix his name to: Heartland bears all the defining traits of its maker — ambitious, meticulous, and utterly singular.
♠ In an interview with Slant, Pallett defended his He Poos Clouds over its more melodic, less cerebral predecessor, stating that "more often than not, casual listeners are looking for poignancy in music. Personally, I'm not interested in manipulating people's emotions to the point of poignancy. I like music that contains ideas, not floral patterns."
♠ In that case, Pallett's Heartland proves to be something of a compromise, brimming with erudite lyrics that speak to big existential and artistic themes but likewise teeming with orchestral pop pieces that are lovely, intricate, moving, and yes, often poignant.
♠ He's dialed down the dissonance that generated so much of He Poos Clouds's sonic tension, with the explosive 49–second "Mount Alpentine" providing the record's most overtly confrontational moment.
♠ On Heartland, the rule of melody is firmly established — not in the sense of easy hooks, but rather the winding, ascendant movements of classical chamber music and an abundance of lively pizzicato.
♠ And with the Czech Philharmonic at his beck and call, Pallett has no trouble expanding the scope of his melodies far beyond any of his previous works. "Red Sun No. 5" is a highlight in Pallett's catalogue of compositions, working french horns and lightly rolled typanis into a gentle tapestry of sound and topping it off with a vocal melody reminiscent of Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes."
♠ When Pallett does want to make his listeners squirm, he's apt to use staccato percussion or flurries of glitchy electronica to disorienting effect, most notably in the verses of "The Great Elsewhere."
♠ Speaking of which, I know it was only a few paragraphs ago that I stressed the breadth of Pallett's recorded work, but I'll go on record arguing for " Elsewhere" as his most beautiful song to date.
♠ It begins with abrasive crashes of strings, building from meditative verses to an uptempo finale before returning once again to melancholy. Besides showing off nearly all of Pallett's musical modes working at a high level, it contains arguably his finest vocal performance — restrained, expressive, and graceful.
♠ It's also a turning point in the album's narrative: The song concerns the protagonist (a farmer named Lewis) and his disillusionment with his creator. Its lyrics recount his shift from a worldview where the presence of a creator is a source of comfort to one in which the cruelty of the character's fictive world shows up his creator's dark nature.
♠ On the following tracks, the terrific duo of "Oh Heartland, Up Yours!" and "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt," the newly rebellious Lewis confronts his maker but refers to him, alternately, as "the singer" and simply "Owen," suggesting that Pallett has some rather serious points to make about his own creative endeavors.
♠ Pallett goes even more meta on "E Is for Estranged."
♠ There, he has a father observe his son's tortuous ketamine addiction, but in the refrain Pallett seemingly indicts the idea that music can provide the type of emotional connection to which the verses seemingly aspire, with snarky asides about string arrangements and children's choirs, not to mention his repeated confession: “I am a flightless bird, I am a liar/Feeding the facts to false fires/Pathos is born, borne of bullshit in formal attire.” Statement or no, there's no denying the track's evocative beauty, with its aching, scraping violins and measured vocal cadence. But if Pallett's music can rile up one's emotions even when appended to such arch confessions, has he undermined his argument or demonstrated it? Tracks like these make it clear that Heartland will repay its greatest rewards to those who listen often and carefully. But those uninterested in Pallett's philosophies should have no issue sinking into his gorgeous arrangements, for even on a casual listen it's apparent that Pallett is up to something quite a lot more sophisticated than any of his peers. To put it simply, the superb craftmanship on show here, whether one pays mind to Pallett's orchestral gestures or his electronic flourishes, are going to make a lot of purportedly similar songs by talents like Andrew Bird and Jimmy Tamborello seem amateurish by comparison. Even Pallett's own work with Arcade Fire appears shallow in Heartland's wake. Instead of using orchestration to provide a lush background or a convenient climax, Pallett leads his cast of musicians through an organic fusion of pop and classical aesthetics. It recalls Phillip Glass's operas (particularly his Waiting for the Barbarians) as much as anything in popular music and hews closer to the noisy baroque pop of Jeremy Enigk's Return of the Frog Queen than anything contemporaneous. Certainly, this is not a record of obvious hooks, with many songs only working as useful tension–builders. Indeed, many of the strong tracks on the album will not excerpt well at all, meaning that Heartland stands or falls as a single, continuous composition rather than a collection of songs. "Keep the Dog Quiet" may fail to capture on first listen, and "Tryst with Mephistopheles" might outstay its welcome, but both make substantial contributions to the progression of the album. If this all sounds too much like homework, it's worth re–reemphasizing that, whatever his protests against casual poignancy, Pallett has crafted an absorbing gem of a record, one that delivers substantial emotional payloads by means of incredibly intricate pop music. Rather than striking a blow against emotionally captivating music in favor of the album of ideas, Pallett makes a compelling case that the two need not be antagonists (the exception being the closer, "What Will Happen Next?," which succeeds thematically but goes nowhere interesting sonically. Perhaps there's nothing simple about Heartland, but for all its literacy and high–brown contemplation, it enchants by the same means as Pallett's previous work as Final Fantasy: the allure of undeniably pretty melodies. Pallett manages to be both literate and listenable, but what else should we expect from a man who takes his Tolstoy with his Taylor Swift?
♣ http://www.slantmagazine.com/ NOTES:
♠ Final Fantasy alert! Over the past week, the always–lovely Good Hodgkins has twice graced us with new Owen Pallett tracks.
♠ First came a grand total of six tracks from Owen Pallett and rapper Cadence Weapons's CBC Radio session in mid–April.
♠ Pallett is featured on three of Cadence's tracks (check out "Sharks," in which Pallett incorporates some sweet Andrew Bird into the mix) and then has three of his own songs: "What Do You Think Will Happen Next?"; "Paris 1919," a cover of ex–Velvet–Undergrounder John Cale's song; and the old stand–by, "This is the Dream of Win and Regine." Though you may be tempted to listen to hear how "This is the Dream of Win and Regine" sounds with phat beats on top of it, avoid the track — really — and jump to the untainted "Paris 1919" instead. Then, sing along: "you're a ghost / la la la la la la la." "What Do You Think Will Happen Next?," which sounds something like a more hurried random version of "Win and Regine," is also worth the three–and–three–quarter minutes listen.
♠ As if this weren't enough, yesterday Hodgkins posted "Flare Gun," a track from the Esopus #8 compilation. Esopus is a twice–yearly arts magazine that includes a CD with each issue.
♠ The theme of this one is spam: as Esopus puts it, “ten musical acts scoured their junk–mail folders to find inspiration from the scourge of the cyberage.” At about 1:10, "Flare Gun" breaks down, lulls, lurches, then collects itself and returns, back to the same violin loop that was holding the song together before.
♠ Godamn. Now if we could only figure out what spam–related topic Pallett is singing about. ♠
♠ http://www.torontoist.com/2007/05/sweet_sweet_fan.php ♠
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