Progress Report

Progress Report: Final Fantasy

NAME: Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy)
PROGRESS REPORT: Finishing work on Heartland, his followup to He Poos Clouds.

Owen Pallett describes the way he works as “fastidious.” “I’m a Virgo, if you’re into that sort of thing,” he explains. The “way he works” seems to apply not only to recording his followup to 2006’s He Poos Clouds, but to his life as well. He’s the kind of person who takes down ambiguous Twitter messages and leaves voicemails to correct something he said via e-mail, even when (or especially when) his intentions are innocent. Even the songs he debuted at his February 28 appearance at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music (“Keep The Dog Quiet, “Lewis Takes Action,” “The End Of Time,” and “Tryst With Mephistopheles”) display a precision that says, “please don’t misunderstand me.”

But the title of his new record, Heartland, is a bit duplicitous. On the one hand, Heartland refers to a different area for the Toronto native, the farming and manufacturing areas of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. On the other, America’s heartland has a little in common with Pallett’s. “I like the title Heartland, it has a double meaning,” he says. “Along with “homeland,’ the word seems to signify feelings of familiarity and comfort, but most often, it’s used with a sentiment of xenophobia and/or a sense of entitlement.” The album was originally going to be about “nothingness,” though Pallett admits that it’s changed. It’s certainly not about death, as He Poos Clouds was: “It’s about romance. The thing that comes before death.”

Pallett says that at first he wasn’t sure if he should make a big orchestral record or do a home recording. “Two of my idols — Van Dyke Parks and Angela Morley — sent nice letters about He Poos Clouds. Nico Muhly’s been of massive encouragement, too,” he says. “I had done some self-production in the interim on EPs and 7″s, as well as other people’s records, and I thought I could take it on.” Pallet began seriously writing for Heartland back in August, and has since gone to Iceland for early recording, a 50-piece string orchestra in Prague, and mixing back home. He says he’s still recording vocals and mixing tracks for Heartland, but that it’ll be out before the end of the year. The results sound like a great mix of analog and digital: orchestral pieces written as electronic music approximating orchestral music. “There’s this one song called ‘The Great Elsewhere,’ it is the sound of polyphony increasing to a point of saturation. Critical mass polyphony,” Pallet says. “It’s pretty brutal, like three New Order songs being played at the same time.”

In Prague, where the strings were recorded.

Owen and Leon Taheny on a break from recording.


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