FINAL FANTASY with JON-RAE & THE RIVER , SHAWN HEWITT , HOLY FUCK and THANKSGIVING as part of the Wavelength 250 fifth anniversary party at the Music Gallery (197 John), Saturday (February 12). $5-$10. 416-204-1080, www.wavelengthtoronto.com. Rating: NNNNN
Owen Pallett has a dirty little secret.
"I was basically a big band slut for a while," admits the violinist.
No kidding. He's fresh off the road from a tour doing double duty as a member/opening act with the Arcade Fire, and his CV includes stints with Les Mouches, Hidden Cameras, Royal City and Gentleman Reg.
He's like the Dave Grohl of violin. Despite his past, though, it sounds like Pallett is ready for change.
"I'm riddled with parasites and shit, I look five years older and I've gained weight. I'm totally fucked up," says Pallett, audibly drained from his stateside jaunt.
Though failing health could be a contributing factor in Pallett's decision to settle down, the reality is that he won't have any additional time to lounge on the couch. He's freeing up time for his newish solo project, the oddly named Final Fantasy.
Last May, Pallett was asked to take part in a benefit show for cult singer Bobby Birdman. Armed with his violin, a couple of cover tunes and a rented Boss LoopStation, he threw together a short set and blew the roof off the joint.
"Originally, this started as a joke project," he chuckles. "But after I got off stage at that first show, my boyfriend was like, 'That was amazing. '"
And while significant others are contractually obliged to support their loved ones, Pallett is clearly onto something.
During Final Fantasy live shows, he plays intricate violin figures, loops them, and counterpoints those loops with added layers of melody and his fey vocal arrangements. It's a glorious noise that even Pallett admits is a little odd.
"I'm still trying to figure out where this music is coming from," he says. "With Les Mouches, I just want to shout onstage and act like a dick."
In December, Pallett locked himself in the studio with engineer Leon Taheny, a case of imported Red Bull and a batch of fresh tunes. Fuelled by taurine and art lust, the pair pulled several all-nighters and ripped through a marathon six-day recording session.
In fact, Pallett and Taheny were so dug into the studio, news of the December 26 Asian catastrophe didn't reach their ears until New Year's Eve.
"It kind of trivialized what we were doing at the time," he says. "But I guess it shows how busy things were in the studio."
The result of the sessions is the splendid 16-track Final Fantasy Has A Good Home (Blocks Recording Club).
A string fetishist's wet dream, the record lovingly expands Pallett's captivating tunes into full band arrangements. And while it's barely off the presses, Pallett says he's already got a couple of 7-inch singles on the go and an EP he wants to do with a string quartet.
"I want Final Fantasy to be a short burst," he says. "I want to make, like, five records in a year and then just stop."