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coverpic flag Canada - Full Moon 164 - 01/30/10

Owen Pallett
Domino / Playground

Canadian Owen Pallett (a.k.a. Final Fantasy - as he took the name from the popular video game) has with Heartland come up with his third full album, and he presents a 45-minute piece (12 songs) of orchestral pop music about "a a young, ultra-violent farmer named Lewis and the fictional world of Spectrum". Hmmm, country music done pop style?

Michael James Owen Pallett is a singer-songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist (violin, piano, harpsichord), who unveils a certain taste for drama, grandeur, ambitions and emotions. Musically it's quite tempting to mention both Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird (both Bird and Pallett use looped violins) as 'related' composers/artist, but Pallett's musical palette takes him (sometimes) closer (but not too close, mind you) to more 'mainstream' pop music (think synth-pop). He's whimsical and playful, but also very serious about his trade. Heartland took 9 months and 4 countries (including Reykjavik, Iceland, and Prague, the Czech republic, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra!) to create. Several guests have contributed to the album, and New York producer Rusty Santos (who's produced Animal Collective's Sung Tongs and mixed Panda Bear's Person Pitch), did the mixing job.

Heartland is also musically related to works by Grizzly Bear. Pallett has collaborated with Ed Droste of the very Grizzly Bear, as well as with Arcade Fire, Beirut, Andrew Bird, Pet Shop Boys (!), and many others. The spaciousness and colourfulness of Pallett's music is quite amazing, and Heartland is a most diverse album. Maybe the most diverse and massive (in the sense of the polyphonic) recording I've heard in a while. As Pallett has stated: "While writing it, I kept an image in my head of putting so many notes on the page that the paper turned black."

The opening "Midnight Directives" sets the tone and the mood quite instantly. From here the songs come in waves - in and out from all the layers of sound. The album works very good as a whole, but to pick some highlights, I'd say that "The Great Elsewhere", "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt", "Oh Heartland, Up Yours!", and the epic "Tryst with Mephistopheles" really stand out. Heartland is both fascinating and enchanting. True pop art. Delicious and different.

Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Owen Pallett articles/reviews: In Conflict, Song for Five & Six.

© 2011 Luna Kafé