Music January 28, 2010 By Todd Rosenberg

filler19 Owen Pallett: Heartland

owen pallett cover1 Owen Pallett: Heartland

pallet Owen Pallett: Heartland

Long ago, classical music ruled. Over centuries, musical iconoclasts found many ways to deviate from this sonic bedrock with jazz, rock and roll, hip-hop, reggae, and other popular flavors, relegating classical to something highfalutin, placed on a pedestal for anyone nerdy or old enough to pay attention. Foreshadowed by Anthony Burgess’ visionary novella A Clockwork Orange, a bastardized version of classical music has again become en vogue, ironically in hipster, cool-kid circles. Artists like Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, and Eric Matthews hybridized with “chamber pop”, making equal use of folk, rock, and classical instruments and song structures. Owen Pallett (née Final Fantasy) is another luminary of this genre, as evidenced by his latest full-length, Heartland, (not to mention his orchestral arrangements already heard with Arcade Fire). The song cycle is adorned with lush details: string flourishes, woodwinds, brass, and even bells. More than just ornamentation, these meticulous touches are the glue (and attraction) of this jigsawed sound. Heartland shows Pallett’s penchant for mixing bygone instruments with newfangled electronics, sometimes giving his songs a retro-futuristic feel. “Lewis Takes Action” (stream below) sounds like a ’60s girl-group classic interpolated by the hands of a philharmonic; the centerpiece “O Heartland, Up Yours!” surprises with its semi-soulful groove. Another example of the place classical music still holds in pop culture, in measured doses.

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