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Coachella, beyond the main stage: Owen Pallett's string-laden magic

April 7, 2010 |  4:11 pm


Who: Owen Pallett, formerly Final Fantasy

From: Toronto

Reason to care: This violinist and composing Canuck has arranged and/or embellished several epic and stormy recordings, including Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” from 2004 and the band's follow-up, “Neon Bible.” Pals with what seems like the bulk of his music-making citizenry, Pallett used to run with the Blocks Recording Club, a joyfully amuck collective revolving around the Hidden Cameras. He’s also laid down strings with Zach Condon of Beirut, the Pet Shop Boys, Mika, Mountain Goats and F*cked Up. His first two solo albums, “Has a Good Home” and the rather unfortunately titled “He Poos Clouds,” were released under the moniker Final Fantasy, a nod to his favorite Japanese video game, but for “Heartland,” his Domino debut released in January, he’s ditched the alias, signaling a step into his most fully realized work yet.

Owen Pallett - Lewis Takes Off His Shirt from Domino Records on Vimeo.

Listen/Watch: “Heartland” is a graceful, tight-wire act of classically informed, obsessively dense and panoramic orchestral pop -- a little like a Disney soundtrack conceived by crazed outsider artist Henry Darger. Think pitter-pattering percussion with inserts of sweeping, stately brass and woodwind instrumentation, and a narrative about a violent farmer named Lewis. The single, “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt,” is a dreamy but bright escapade, made for solo wanderings of wet but golden wheat fields.

Fun fact for the gossips: Remember the great Wayne versus  Win war of 2009? Well, Pallett struck back in defense of his good friend on his Twitter account, stating, “Win might not be all hugs and rainbows and kittens but neither is the drug culture, confetti, pot paraphernalia and…” This being a family newspaper and all, we can't quote the last word but we bet you can figure it out for yourself.

Next: For his Coachella set, expect a spare but hypnotizing performance with little more than a man, his violin and a loop machine. After Indio, he’ll tour more of North America in support of "Heartland," finishing off in Europe.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Owen Pallett. Credit: Hedi Slimane