Chad VanGaalen - Shrink Dust
You know you’re going to hear something a little different when the opening lines are “Cut off both my hands and threw them in the sand / Watched them swim away from me like a pair of bloody crabs.” From there on in, this fifth album from Chad VanGaalen continues to make its own rules. The Canadian singer is no stranger to being a little different: his early releases consist mainly of demos recorded in his bedroom or makeshift studio; Shrink Dust's more trad recording process does not, however, interfere with VanGaalen's idiosyncratic approach to music.
Quite often the vocal levels are toyed with; the detached, distant, continuous refrain of ‘Where Are You’ is somewhat beguiling, and ‘Monster’ has its vocals way down in the mix. ‘Frozen Planet’ is all over the place - acoustic and electronic in the same four minutes, whilst the slow stagger of ‘Lila’, and harmonica-fed ‘Weighed Sin’ are as close to the mainstream as VanGaalen gets. The best track, ‘Leaning On Bells’, is a noisy, ragged, throwback to 60s rock ‘n’ roll. With its blend of familiar, friendly folk-ish songs, and strange, aggressively distracting alternia, you may not necessarily like Shrink Dust but you may appreciate it.