(You’re in for a world of weird, folks!)
With recent mainstream releases at an all-time terrible, I turn my gaze to a dear old love of mine; Chad VanGaalen – A largely unsung artist with all the heart and creativity I expect from a professional musician, and then some! It can never be a white British or American artist which impresses me, can it? Chad VanGaalen himself hails from the universally beloved Canada, making his musical debut in 2001 with various independent releases and going on to release his first label-supported album in 2004 with the charming and beautifully creative, Infiniheart. Yet, despite his consistently high-quality work and notable measure of success in Canada, his work seems largely neglected in the US and UK markets.
I find it a little surprising that VanGaalen doesn’t gain more recognition from fans of the Psychedelic movement, given that some of his work almost seems somewhat reminiscent of other like-minded bands. Through a quick squint, one might notice similarities to albums such as the incredible Innerspeaker by Tame Impala; another album I feel is unjustly dismissed in light of their most recent album. Much like Innerspeaker, the album pays large homage to the Shoegaze movement and other more psychedelic styles which depend largely around soundscaping. Like many others within this style, VanGaalen respects this influence in a sheer abundance of unique charisma and personality.
I often complain that a lot of music seems to lack a particular point of interest, but I feel like I may have been totally spoiled by VanGaalen in this respect. His music feels consistently fascinating to me and unfailingly wins my adoration with every listen. Every track simply radiates creativity both in the music and in the lyrics, often addressing topics with a somewhat bizarre perspective, using strange lyrics to conjure up truly unique imagery. In spite of this bizarre lyrical theme, however, the work retains a constant state of accessibility and emotional investment, with the very sounds and various dynamic builds capturing the true essence of loss and hardship and tempering such challenging feelings with a general feeling of wonderment, beauty and even cathartic joy.
Another interesting point to note is VanGaalen’s ability as an animator. His colourful and abstract nature is perfectly displayed throughout his music videos; most prominently in the videos to Peace On The Rise and Monster. His ingenuity and imagination is absolutely masterful and more admirable than the majority of bands I have since heard and seen, with the closest competition to such inventiveness being the animations in the comedy cult-classic; The Mighty Boosh. Anybody with the slightest familiarity with the creative minds of Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding will know that such a comparison is a true compliment to the creativity of VanGaalen.
Without a slightest interest in any recent musical releases, I wanted to take the time to introduce this absolute marvel of a man to those unaware of his music. There’s a great deal of wonderment to Chad VanGaalen and I feel he deserves more recognition than he currently receives. In the process of researching his work and background I found that he has released an album this year which I currently have a keen interest in listening to and reviewing, but without any knowledge of its quality, I’ll leave a recommendation to listen to either the Shrink Dust or Soft Airplane albums for a great introduction to his character and music. He’s a beautifully clever man and I couldn’t begin to truly explain the love I hold for his music. Listen to it, but be prepared for something deeply weird and absolutely mind-shatteringly abstract.