Chad VanGaalen’s musical roots date back to the first part of the decade, when he made a living busking on the streets of Calgary. He is also an accomplished animator and illustrator whose music is very much informed by his appreciation of visual arts. He has produced a voluminous wealth of material, by himself, at a rate that might best be described as alarming. And whatever his motivation for doing what he does, or creating what he creates, the result is that it is always both genuine and good. The proof is in the songs themselves. They have heart. They have pain. They have hope. They have humor. And most importantly, they have fun.
Recorded on a Tascam 4-track and other analog devices, using synthesizers, guitars and a collection of his own handmade instruments, Chad’s first two LPs, Infiniheart (2005) and Skelliconnection (2006), were wildly eclectic and ethereal, texturally imaginative, sometimes ambitious and sometimes restrained.
Recorded primarily on an old tape machine and a JVC ghetto blaster in Chad’s Calgary basement, Soft Airplane retains the handmade charm and singular character of his previous records, while incorporating new layers of sophistication and weight. Recalling Neil Young at his most fragile and plaintive, and Thurston Moore at his most resolved and vital, Chad’s emotive vocals anchor these songs while tackling the pervasive themes of death and dreams with an unexpected air of certainty and hope that is far from ominous—-instead it’s luminous. Through a complex interplay of guitar, drum beats, loops, samples, found sounds, unorthodox percussion, xylophones, distortion, synthesizers, accordions and more, Chad has made an album that sounds bigger than one man.
It sounds like a lifetime.