Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Final Fantasy / He Poos Clouds / Rating: 8.0

“Pallett's combination of pop idiom and classical practice is fluid and natural; he sounds perfectly at home here, miles from the self-conscious "conceptual" way indie acts usually take up string quartets.”

My hero.

I have to respect a man who unabashedly is who he is; a gay video game enthusiast who was so interested in the 8 schools of magic found in D&D that he decided to base his enter new record (loosely) around that theme. Plus he is Canadian lad who sounds a little something like Charlie Brown if he played the violin, sang, and scored films for Alfred Hitchcock.

This sounds unbearably pretentious on the page but I swear to you Owen Pallett has mastered the dramatic flare of Rufus Wainwright along with the dizzying darting strings of composer and arranger Bernard Herrman. This isn’t a goofy kid record spoofing on epic soundtracks and far out themes; Owen’s songwriting skill has a foundation built on genius.

It feels shameful to call this just another great indie record. Owen knows how to do things like orchestrate an entire record strictly dedicated to a string quartet and voice. I mean what band(s) do you know who can not only complete something so gorgeous and accurately rooted in classical composition but no less support it with a larger than life concept of every day living through the eyes of a Dungeons and Dragons roll player.


I know these artists come from two totally different worlds but I am imagine a band like The Donna’s listening to this record and melting like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz due to the shock of music minus power chord formulas and entry level lyrics.

Not to drag this Oh my god I can’t believe this guy can play classical music no less write classical music (with spastic pop elements) really well but writing for a string quartet is something that relies on nearly expert skill to execute successfully. You don’t have to like twitchy chamber pop to appreciate the endangered species level of talent displayed on He Poos Clouds - which as far as titles goes straddles the fine line between best and worst name ever.

I’ve been trying to figure out why Pitchfork ignored the fanciful details behind this record but in the end I am glad to see we nearly meet eye to eye on rating this record. PFM says 8 and I will stand that 8 on its tippy-toes to give it an 8.5. What we have here is another record to enter my top ten of 2006; I am just sorry it took me so long to get to this review.