Owen Pallett @ Band on the Wall, 12 Aug
“I might have to insist on this track being the walk-on music for all my future gigs, can you imagine?” Owen Pallett smirks, frantically motioning to the soundguy to cut the atrociously heavy rave horns that some unknown twerp decided would make a fitting entrance for the 33-year old Canadian violinist. Tonight is actually the last leg of Pallett’s European tour, an in-between-albums escapade designed to warm up new material for forthcoming record In Conflict, his second full-length effort since ditching the Final Fantasy moniker back in 2009. Reason suggests he’d had quite enough of being confused with the equally acclaimed Square Enix video game series of the same name.
With the horns eventually muted, and any danger of an unlikely techno-driven set quelled, things get going with a couple of choice selections from Heartland. Layering intricate multiphonic loops from his fiddle through a combination of Max/MSP and SuperLooper, Pallett gradually builds soaring synthetic soundscapes of immense complexity. Backed by a sparse rhythm section, he picks, plucks, bows, scratches and smacks his way through each track, exploiting every possible noise that a violin can make. A thunderous rendition of Tryst With Mephistopheles is enough to confirm that the guy has an entire concerto at his fingertips.
You cannot question his talent in arrangement, but, at times, the layers upon layers of melody are a little cacophonous; they often sit cluttered in the mix, verging on over-indulgence. The mid/treble range is also a bit off and masks Pallett’s delicate falsetto during the songs that involve drums and bass. It’s a shame because alone he frequently shows glimpses of an innate ability to mesmerise, particularly on Song for 5 and 6, and This Lamb Sells Condos. He ends with self-confessed "hit" Lewis Takes Off His Shirt, an experimental blend of twee baroque pop – not the easiest finale to digest but one that is still, somehow, strangely palatable.