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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Owen Pallett surprises us with Island, his first studio album in 6 years

Illustration for article titled Owen Pallett surprises us with Island, his first studio album in 6 years
Photo: Robert Marquardt (Getty Images)

Violin whiz and nerd icon Owen Pallett—the artist formally known as Final Fantasy—has returned with not one, but two new albums. The first, Island, is his first studio LP since 2014's In Conflict, while the second is his score to Hulu’s new Biosphere 2 documentary, Spaceship Earth.


Island was written on acoustic guitar before being orchestrated and recorded by the London Contemporary Orchestra. Speaking to Apple Music, Pallett says the album is a sequel of sorts to 2010's Heartland, a cosmic concept album about a farmer named Lewis in a 14th-century universe called Spectrum. “Lewis is meant to both represent people that I see outside of myself, as well as a part of myself that I don’t always see,” he says. “With Island, however, Lewis is more representative of an instinctive, subconscious side of myself that I only really become acquainted with when I’m blind drunk.”

In an interview with Brooklyn Vegan, Pallett cites influences like Arca, Nick Drake, Majical Cloudz, and Grouper. He also credits the “smudgy” work of composer Gerard Grisey: “The latter half of the album, I wanted it to feel like the orchestra was a fire upstairs that was threatening to burn the house down—and eventually, it does just that.”

The album arrives with a music video for “A Bloody Morning,” which features dancers ranging in age from six to 72—including Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry—raging behind windows while in quarantine. “Honestly, at first I wasn’t sold on the concept,” Pallett told Brooklyn Vegan. “I worried that the video would end up pornographing the quarantine, and I declined.” He changed his mind, however, upon seeing the final product. “I couldn’t believe how cathartic it was to see the video, how perfectly it fit the song, and how meaningful and necessary it was for me to see it when I did.”

Watch it below.

And stream the album here.

Of his work on Spaceship Earth, Pallett says he was inspired by “60s sci-fi film scores, Nino Rota, as well as American 20th century music—John Adams and Aaron Copland.”


Stream that below.


Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.