Chad VanGaalen / Diaper Island - SP871
Every so often, Chad VanGaalen emerges from his bunker in Calgary with a batch of songs, giving us a window into the private world of this reclusive and enigmatic songwriter. With Diaper Island, VanGaalen distills his approach, producing his most sonically cohesive album to date, and the closest thing he has done to a rock album.
If you’re among the first 200 people to pre-order Diaper Island by May 17th from Sub Pop, you’ll receive a limited edition (of 500) Chad VanGaalen print signed and hand-numbered by Chad himself! Oh, and stickers, also stickers.
Released: May 17, 2011
Chad VanGaalen / Soft Airplane - SP783
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.
Released: September 9, 2008
Chad VanGaalen / Skelliconnection - SP719
Chad VanGaalen is very prolific. Skelliconnection was culled from hundreds of songs Chad has recorded over the last year or so, while holed up in his bare bones basement home studio. Using handmade instruments alongside those available to mere mortals, he’s created an even more diverse assemblage of music than for his last album and debut, Infiniheart. Chad resides in Calgary, Alberta, which is in Canada. He’s an amazingly talented illustrator and animator. There’s a chance you might have seen the videos he made for his own “Clinically Dead” and Love as Laughter’s “Dirty Lives.” They were featured on MTV2’s Subterranean video show, which Chad also hosted. He’s played with Built to Spill, Wolf Parade, The Pixies, and Stars, to name a few. Mostly, Chad likes to stay home and make songs and drawings. Chad’s new record, on the other hand, resides somewhere a little more difficult to pin down. It’s a restless, living thing, roaming between simple yet beautiful ballads, aggressively dissonant post-punk, and jazz-inflected synth-pop explorations, at times whimsical, and at others heartrending.
(Vinyl with bonus material here while it lasts.)
Released: August 22, 2006
Chad VanGaalen / Infiniheart - SP680
Cultivating a singularly unique voice in the world of songwriting and composition is a difficult prospect for all but the most naturally gifted of artists, and Calgary-based songwriter Chad VanGaalen certainly belongs in that category. Infiniheart, an epic tapestry of crunchy guitars, ethereal textures and expressive hooks, exists as a selection of the hundreds upon hundreds of intricate, visionary pop songs VanGaalen has crafted and self-recorded in his bedroom studio since 1994 with a Tascam 4-track, an Akai hard disc recorder and an assortment of analog gadgets. VanGaalen, a skilled animator and illustrator, began his journey busking Canadian streets and art events with a simple setup of drums and guitar before critical acclaim of his recorded material gave way to subsequent opening slots with Stars and the Pixies. As prolific as he is curious about the nature of sound and the mysteries of the heart, VanGaalen’s mystical, highly sympathetic characters thematically explore loss, passion and longing through sonic constructions rich in simplicity and peppered with glitchy beats, plaintive, vulnerable vocals and homemade saxophones and violins whittled by VanGaalen himself. Deeply moving and endlessly surprising, Infiniheart is VanGaalen’s first for Sub Pop.
Released: 2005-08-23 (CD), 2005-08-23 (2xLP), 2009-09-16 (MP3s)