Final Fantasy → He Poos Clouds
Photo by Hanson
He Poos Clouds is a string quartet album by Owen Pallett released under the name Final Fantasy. Whereas his first album Has a Good Home was recorded quickly and contained mostly love songs, He Poos Clouds is a carefully planned concept album with only one love song (the title track). [source] Several of the songs had already existed before the first album’s release.
With the exception of the interlude “→” and the finale “The Pooka Sings”, each song corresponds to a school of magic in Dungeons & Dragons, the most popular role-playing game in the world. The songs are not about the game or the schools of magic spells themselves, but rather about common events that could belong to each school. In “The Pooka Sings”, this whole concept is subverted.
Owen Pallett said, “I don’t play [D&D]. But I read campaign settings on trains. I like the way the entire environment has to be parsed into statistical data.” [source] “I find [the campaign settings] really interesting from an anthropological perspective. It’s a new system of belief that’s entirely fictional and yet so resolute in its ability to simplify the entire workings of the universe with the roll of dice.” [source]
“[D&D players]—who I’m going to stereotype and say that they’re probably mostly a bunch of either pagans or atheists—will have this incredibly codified and developed system of negotiating the relationship of themselves with the subliminal, with the phenomenal-logical.” [source] “It’s like reimagining the entire Catholic faith, but without actually beliving it. Looking at Catholicism, but leaving out the whole system of belief, and treating it as if it were a pasttime.” [source]
“It’s an examination of the fact that atheists do need something to believe in and that it’s gonna be ridiculous to do so but those weird phenomena that we’re going to simultaneously believe in but not believe in—actually not even believe in—we don’t believe in them but we’re gonna talk about them and codify them is a very interesting aspect of atheism. And of nerdiness too. A lot of atheists either float through life not thinking about these things or have very decided non-beliefs. There is a codification of atheism that does not involve Dungeons & Dragons, obviously. It still means that these people worship celebrity or America’s Next Top Model or art or any certain thing.” [source]
“He Poos Clouds is a preposterous, over-the-top statement of devotion, much like ‘I Am So In Fucking Love With Him’ or ‘He’s A Prince’. The presence of ‘poo’ in the title is meant to defuse the potential seriousness associated with an album of string quartet music. A lovely side effect: half-assed listeners are weeded out.” [source]
“Everyone was comparing it to Limp Bizkit and Chocolate Starfish, but those guys are douche-bags. But I guess the world is filled with douche-bags. They just can’t appreciate a nice, innocent album title. It’s not even meant to be ironic.” [source]
“The three big influences for making the record were Destroyer’s Your Blues, Galina Ustvolskaya, who’s a Russian composer I’ve been listening to constantly, and strictly on a functional level, the Bartok String Quartet. It took a long time to make because I was trying to compile only the best ideas. I tried to avoid writing pop songs and focused on making more of a cohesive record.” [source]
The album took $8,000 to make, funded mostly by Arcade Fire. [source]