I have to admit I've always been somewhat skeptical when it comes to those string quartet tributes Travis posted about yesterday. It sounds entertaining in principal: take music that's proven and popular, and translate it for a new sonic palette. Unfortunately for us, the translations tend to be painfully literal, which sort of takes me out of the moment, even if the players on the albums are competent. Then again, it's been a while since I've heard any of these, so I guess I'll have to give them one more chance.
For my contribution, I've collected a few songs that I feel make exceptional use of strings. First up: Canadian violin whizkid Owen Pallett, also known as Final Fantasy. Pallett's primary instrument is the violin, and his primary weapon is a collection of incredibly wonderful songs. The combination's results are refreshing, beautiful, and very hard to classify.
Godspeed You Black Emperor are an instrumental collective from Montreal. Their albums are massive undertakings, usually fusing a full hour of continuous music and sampled sounds onto a single disc. Lift Your Skinny Fists... is the opening track on the double-album of the same name. If you've never heard this before, make sure you dim the lights and crank the volume. That's really the only way to experience it. The song itself begins with a barely audible horn and guitar part that blossoms and eventually explodes as the song keeps rising higher towards a climax it can barely contain. And then it ends.
Hoppipolla is from last year's Takk by Sigur Ros. This was one of the highlight tracks for me, featuring a sweet piano melody elevated by a rich, sweeping string section. And finally, The Faint's Wet From Birth had strings all over it. From the moment those quick high notes come stabbing in over the pulsing bass line on this tune, I was hooked. Quite simply, it rawks.
[mp3] Final Fantasy - The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead
[mp3] Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
[mp3] Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
[mp3] The Faint - Southern Belles in London Sing
* Buy Final Fantasy - Has A Good Home
* Buy Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists...
* Buy Sigur Ros - Takk
* Buy The Faint - Wet From Birth
* More Godspeed tracks at their official website