Over the last ten to fifteen years, Chad VanGaalen has been producing living maps in songs, drawings, modified instruments, animations and performances--shifting forms pointing to another world, infinitely more liveable, maybe hidden just under the surface of our own.
Now a father of two, the spooky-voiced multi-instrumentalist has several hundred releases to his name(s), has produced adventurous records and videos for some of the best bands of our time, is working on a feature-length animated science fiction film with companion book, and plays in two bands with his kids (the improvised hardcore punk duo, Crocodile Teeth & The Snugglers, and the live techno band, Banana Bread). At one point, Chad and his daughters conspired to replace the name, "Chad VanGaalen" with "Banana Bread," as his main performing identity.
Shrink Dust, Chad’s fifth full-length album under his own name, is partially a score to Translated Log of Inhabitants, the animated film he has been working on for two years, 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.
1 Cut Off My Hands
2 Where Are You?
3 Frozen Paradise
5 Weighed Sin
8 Leaning On Bells
9 All Will Combine
10 Weird Love
11 Hangman's Son
12 Cosmic Destroyer
“His latest, Shrink Dust, is possibly his best, and certainly his most confident. These songs are gentle, sad, and just bizarre enough”
“one of his best recorded efforts to date.”
“completely honest and uncompromising”
“Chad VanGaalen plunges deeper into his weird world …evocative and memorable”
- Now Toronto
“the highlight of his now 10-year career a long-play perfect for summer this year, and each year to follow.”
- northerntransmissions (9/10)
"an easy album to love, and one well worth your attention."
"To step into Chad VanGaalen’s world is to go through the looking glass … you won’t be able to look away".
- NME (8/10)
“VanGaalen never runs out of ways to be compelling, and Shrink Dust is just the latest jewel in his heavy crown”
- Grayowl Point
“hooks and delirious sparks of infectious weirdness to spare, but it’s tempered by a master's pop touch which ensures that every weird note is countered by a hummable one”
- Ground Control
“all those drugs Neil young stopped taking? Now we know where they went: Straight into the psych-folk hallucinations and garage-rock fever dreams of the Calgary weirdo’s fifth album. No shrinking violet, him.”
- The Sun (4/4)
“The experimental Calgary songwriter re-merges from his musical laboratory with another beautiful monster. He toys with rock, folk and country conventions, and takes us down his own rabbit hole of eccentric lyrics. Who else could move you with an eerie acoustic number titled Cut Off My Hands?”
-Post Media / Pop Forecast