Chad VanGaalen


Chad VanGaalen
Flemish Eye
Chad VanGaalen is anything but the fragile, brooding Elliott Smith-like performer you might have envisioned while devouring his remarkable 2004 debut, Infiniheart. That album was essentially a summary of songs this Calgary-based visual artist had amassed over years, hunched over found or constructed instruments and recording devices in his bedroom. A sense of isolation, experimentation and lack of self-consciousness were all over that esoteric debut, and are once again with Skelliconnection, a playfully idiosyncratic mixture of perilously catchy indie-pop (“Burn 2 Ash”), driving indie-metal stuttering (“Flower Gardens”), ’80s electro-pop (“Red Hot Drops,” “Gubbbish”), and travelling blues (“Wind Driving Dogs”). His time spent in Sackville, New Brunswick, with the Sappy Records crew is subtly evident here as well, most prominently on the Rick White-ish psycho-acoustic “Mini TVs.” One of the album’s centrepieces, a charming folk melody called “Wing Finger,” with its slightly out-of-tune banjo, toy xylophone and tambourine, finds VanGaalen’s soft vibrato lamenting perhaps his own success and inevitable change (“what was once the only thing/now has transformed into everything”). Despite the production boost, the real strides forward lie in the sub-context of an album that feels more confidently articulated, revealing boundless imagination and talent.
—Dave Hayden
categories: Coast pick,Canadian artist

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