Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Chad Vangaalen Shrink Dust & Show # 507

Shrink Dust is the follow up to 2011’s Diaper Island by Chad Vangaalen, an artist from Calgary, Alberta. The songs that make up Shrink Dust are difficult to pin down, as are a majority of the songs by Chad Vangaalen. He calls this album his “country album” and although it isn’t a standard country album per se, you can hear the underlying influences of artists such as The Flying Burritos Brothers, as Vangaalen has stated in interviews for this album. There is also pedal steel work throughout this album that pops up, Vangaalen recently acquired and taught himself how to play this instrument recently. Recorded entirely in his home studio in Alberta, Shrink Dust seems to come off with a mood or feeling resembling that feeling just before you fall asleep, crossed with a nightmare.

Vangaalen has his own unique style of songwriting. When he sings, it comes off in a way with haunting vocals that have been compared to the likes of Thom Yorke and Daniel Johnston. Shrink Dust is also loosely based on a feature length sci-fi animation styled film that Chad has been working on to be titled Translated Log Of Inhabitants. Apparently it will be released later this year and it is a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Strange Brew, in terms of subject matter.

The album begins with the song “Cut Off My Hands”, a song that sets the tone for this album, music and lyric wise it will be dark at times. “Doused in waves of static haze” is sung at one point during this acoustic folk track, but then a weird synthesizer effect, sounding like garbled ocean noises comes in. Throughout the song there are strange instruments adding to its esoteric textures, the pedal steel comes in near the end of the song with a haunting echo. “Where Are You?” was the first single released for this album. It features an eerie sounding synthesizer, fuzz bass sounds, an almost hip hop drum beat and other texturizing sound effects that add to its soundscape, while a song like “Frozen Palace” features many elements in addition to Vangaalen’s psychedelic folk sound. Including some electronic and hip hop elements, “Frozen Place” sounds like it could have been recorded in an arctic snowstorm. “Lila” once again displays Vangaalen’s own folk influenced sound, but features a highly catchy layered chorus. “Monster” has a shuffle-like beat and tells the story of transforming into another life form. I would imagine this could be the basis of the artwork found on the album cover for Shrink Dust, but once again is extremely catchy and creepy at the same time.

Songs such as “Weighted Sin” and “Hangman’s Son” both cater to Chad Vangaalen’s country sound as he would call it, but they come off here with their dark imagery and sonic dynamics as psychedelic country. “Hangman’s Son” in particular seems to draw from the well that Neil Young once drank from on Harvest Moon. The imaginary sounds kick in on the drone-like “Evil”, while “Leaning On Bells” picks up the pace in a groove that was once explored on the more psych garage sounds found on 2011’s Diaper Island. “Cosmic Destroyer” ends the album, bringing in a relaxed vibe, with pedal steel, with Chad Vangaalen’s layered expansive sound. The lyrics to this track “When the world in your head/is the world where you live/the people seem stranger there/paranoid dreams it goes on and on” seem to stick out as a relevant point of interest when discussing Shrink Dust. This album, while loosely based as a score for his forthcoming animation feature that is to feature 150 characters, takes us on a weird journey with lush psychedelic sounds with dominant acoustic guitars, pedal steel and layered vocals. Shrink Dust is a strange and beautiful look into the world of music and characters in which Chad Vangaalen creates that goes on and on like a paranoid dream.

The Play List:

1. Ramones - Do You Remember Rock n' Roll Radio?
2. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - White Palms
3. The Black Angels - The Flop
4. The Sunsets - I Want Love
5. Hot Snakes - Kreative Kontrol
6. Lame Brain - Sleeping King
7. Ty Segall - Son Of Same (Chain Gang)
8. The Modernettes - Red Nails
9. Hot Nasties - I Am A Confused Teenager
10. Pointed Sticks - No Use For U
11. Twin Library - Kick It Apart
12. Sun Parlour Players - By Your Side
13. Denney & The Jets - Water To Wine
14. Chad Vangaalen -Evil
15. Chad Vangaalen - Leaning On Bells
16. Death - North Street
17. Japandroids - For The Love Of Ivy
18. Young Rival - Too Hip
19. Shotgun Jimmie - Onomatopeia
20. Dee Dee Ramone & The Chinese Dragons - Chatterbox
21. The Weirdos - Life Of Crime
22. The Replacements - Hootenanny

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for May 6. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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