Chad VanGaalen : Diaper Island

Chad VanGaalen : Diaper Island

2011 | CD/LP/Digital | 024

Every so often, Chad VanGaalen emerges from his bunker in Calgary with a batch of songs, giving us a window into the 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.

 While VanGaalen's three previous albums were made in a cramped basement studio, a move to a larger recording room offered space to develop and refine his sound. Fresh from producing Women’s critically lauded Public Strain, VanGaalen decided to avoid the comfort of working on previous ground, and apply some of the recording techniques and sonic ideas that emerged from those sessions. For the first time, multi-tracked and often overdriven guitar is the instrument at the centre of the songs, which are often spartan and free of the melodic details that embellished previous albums. With this focus on guitar, combined with a beloved vintage tape machine determining the sound, VanGaalen moved towards a leaner, no-frills approach – one that more closely resembles the music that influenced him as a teenager, while continuing the arc laid out in his previous work.

The paradox of trying to assert control in a climate of helplessness winds through the album, whether in the existential pondering on life and death that often pervades VanGaalen’s songs ("Do Not Fear," “Replace Me”), or in the conflict between control and creativity ("Freedom for a Policeman," “No Panic, No Heat”). At the album's heart is "Sara," a simple and celebratory paean that gorgeously praises the ability of VanGaalen’s partner and muse to nurture his creativity in the face of this uncertainty, and captures the songwriter at his most sincere and powerful.
VanGaalen has been quietly building a catalogue of songs that invite listeners to gently explore his distinctive creativity. Diaper Island extends the adventure into deeper territory, tapping into VanGaalen's lifeblood and mining the richness of his mind with sharper tools.

Track Listing

1 Do Not Fear
2 Peace on the Rise
3 Burning Photographs
4 Heavy Stones
5 Sara
6 Replace Me
7 Blonde Hash
8 Freedom for a Policeman
9 Can You Believe It!?
10 Wandering Spirits
11 No Panic / No Heat
12 Shave My Pussy


"women the world over will surely be swoonin’."
- THE HOUR (4/5)

"a fully focused (and fantastic) collection of tone-questing guitar rock, borne upon love songs, squealy jams and lighters-raised ballads."

"4 Stars"

"... like heaven with clouds"
- 20 Minutes

"a welcome showcase for VanGaalen’s seemingly limitless talent."
- Filter Magazine (86%)

"when you first get your hands on "Diaper Island", you'll find yourself wanting to listen to it over and over again without ever understanding why."
- Chart Magazine (4.5/5)

“Diaper Island is stripped-down and spacious — and the songs are damn near perfect. One of the best albums of 2011 so far”
- Uptown Magazine

"Chad VanGaalen is continuing to show that he is one of Canada’s most talented musicians. His creativity is all but unmatched. So do yourself a favour and take a trip through Diaper Island."
- Gray Owl Point

"incredible warmth, depth and beauty, and the musician’s most fully formed and rewarding offering to date."
- Calgary Herald

"a focused, cohesive album"
- Onion AV Club

“VanGaalen achieves a skewed brilliance, totally unique and irreplicable by anyone else.”
-Vue Mag

“...his vulnerable warble is still intact, his lyrics remain tenderly existential... and the noisy bits just make the softer tunes all the more gutting.”

"the subdued beauty of “No panic/No heat”, “Peace on the Rise” and “Sara” reward the listener in delightful, unexpected ways."
- HeroHill

"Hard to imagine any of his future albums beating this one, but it’s entirely possible, and all signs seem to point toward this inventive young producer/songwriter being on the rise."
- AllMusicGuide

design + development: Structured Abstraction

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