Label: Sub Pop
Catalog #: 71081
Chad VanGaalen's blood flows by unrestrained creative impulses. He has never worked in a commercial recording studio. By his hands alone, one line, sound, shape or word leads organically to the next. In 2011, he wanted to score a science fiction film, so he started making one. The first episode of his animated feature, Translated Log of Inhabitants, should be released this year, with a fully illustrated D&D-esque compendium of 150 associated characters.
Shrink Dust, his fifth full-length album under his own name, is partially a score to this film, but it’s also—in Chad’s view—a country record.
Always a fan of esoteric instruments, Chad recently acquired an aluminum pedal steel guitar, and began trying to figure out how to play it: “It took me a month to set it up, and a year to be comfortable recording myself playing this thing.” His experiments with this instrument unify the album, along with themes of death, transformation, fear, benign evil, and the eccentricity of love. A newfound affection for The Flying Burrito Brothers, and the sci-fi mysticism of the 1980s graphic novel The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius, were also significant in recent years.
Somehow, with all of its disparate influences and components, Shrink Dust might be one of the most accessible moments in CVG’s creative life, simply because it is more apparent than ever how much fun he is having blurring the lines between the vivid worlds of his creation, and the world his audience inhabits. For those who are open to it, Chad’s adventures in music and art illuminate a path that is more colorful, playful, and sustainable than those commonly available to us. A path that is, most importantly, always changeable.
You can see and hear his alternate reality through the artifacts he offers up. But as it turns out, the only true access point into Chad VanGaalen’s expanding universe is one’s own will to create.
Find Chad: He’s a monster.
- Bryan Webb