Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Reviewed by Andreas on 23rd June 2006
Dungeons & Dragons. Taste those words. Most likely, you'll now be sat with the stereotypical image of teenage boys spending weekends in solemn futility, rolling strange dice and wearing helmets in their parents' basement in mind. Things the name, trademark and indeed game usually don't conjure up are the images of a Canadian man playing a violin and singing songs. However, that is what Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) does, and he does it with vigour on his second album, which by all accounts (thank you, Internet) is about the eight schools of magic in the aforementioned role playing-game. Following last year's Has a Good Home the man who's done strings arrangements for both the Arcade Fire and The Hidden Cameras, delivers a mystical album of glacial yet warm and lovely pop music.
Whilst the more fantastical references can be discussed, He Poos Clouds is a thing of musical wonder. Pallett has written and arranged an album that both captivates and at times confuses the listener, using only the violin. Here pop song structures mix with chamber music's leaps and falls to success. Take for instance the opening theme of the title track or the chopped up rhythms of 'Do You Love', both of which work in a multitude of ways and are simply brilliant songs. All through the album the music swells and clatters as violins are used for percussion, harpsichords tinkle and Pallett sings. If there is one thing Pallett can do, it is singing. Furthermore, there is real joy to be found in his voice as he shouts and croons and generally does very well through songs like 'Song Song Song' and 'This Lamb Sells Condos'. One small downside is that the production is, as with so many records, lacking somewhat. At times it is bland and at other times muddy, letting the instruments sit to closely together. However, nothing big and certainly nothing that can't be fixed with some clever equalizing.
Throughout the album the songs give off a sense that they're about people and how they define themselves, along with death seemingly being a concept touched upon more than once. The ideas of these different types of magic is being used as a means to put life into a more passable context. Which, when considering that it's all taken from a game in which people kill stuff with big swords, is quite the feat.
He Poos Clouds is an album of unrelenting ambition and is one of my personal favourites this year. Final Fantasy is one of those artists that makes music fun again, and at least gives me some hope for the future.
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