Chad VanGaalen

Shrink Dust

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Canadian singer/songwriter and visual artist Chad VanGaalen has been exploring off-beat, creative eccentricities and maneuvering the lo-fi D.I.Y. landscape since his 2004 debut Infiniheart. At times tender and yearning, he's also the man who named his 2011 album Diaper Island. In the years following that release, he began animating a science fiction feature to be titled Translated Log of Inhabitants, whose score he would eventually compose. VanGaalen is nothing if not imaginative and he works hard to put his unique stamp on everything he does. 2014's Shrink Dust has the distinction of being both his follow-up to Diaper Island as well as a partial soundtrack to his unreleased film, which is due at the end of the year. With his quavering high tenor voice and experimental tendencies, VanGaalen continues down the unbeaten path with 12 selections of oblique, spaced-out indie rock and psych-folk. Almost in spite of himself, he presents a surprisingly accessible and frequently charming world where melodic songs like "Monster" and "Weird Love" come across as strange but lovable oddities. Similarly, the addition of steel guitar brings a winsome loneliness to country-inflected tracks like "Weighed Sin" and "Hangman's Son." His heavier lo-fi instincts come to bear on the clanging "Where Are You?" which gets lost in its own production and the garage rocker "Leaning on Bells" which, though well-made, further disrupts the already tenuous flow of the album. But, this is VanGaalen's style, and like many creative home-recordists, he unapologetically throws his slightly tangled yarns out into the world with abandon, often making for something completely original, if slightly messy. Shrink Dust has some truly inspired moments and fits right in with VanGaalen's building mythology.

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