Chad Vangaalen sera en concert à Paris le 2 juin au Café de la Danse 

Chad VanGaalen’s musical roots date back to the first part of the decade, when he made a living busking on the streets of Calgary. He is also an accomplished animator and illustrator whose music is very much informed by his appreciation of visual arts. He has produced a voluminous wealth of material, by himself, at a rate that might best be described as alarming. And whatever his motivation for doing what he does, or creating what he creates, the result is that it is always both genuine and good.

The proof is in the songs themselves. They have heart. They have pain. They have hope. They have humor. And most importantly, they have fun.

Chad’s first two LPs, Infiniheart (2005) and Skelliconnection (2006), were wildly eclectic and ethereal, texturally imaginative, sometimes ambitious and sometimes restrained. Recorded on a Tascam 4-track and other analog devices, using synthesizers, guitars and a collection of his own handmade instruments, Chad created a unique style of pop songcraft, fundamentally experimental, both delicate and soaring, simple and elaborate.

Chad is more confident now, and unlike his previous albums, the songs on Soft Airplane were written and recorded more or less within the same time period, rather than collected from disparate moments and sessions spanning many, many years. As such, it feels more focused, deliberate, thoughtful and centered, both thematically and musically. It’s the sound of someone taking his time and sharpening his focus while opening his mind. At its core, it’s a pop record, one that feels free.

Songs roam from stripped-down, spirited acoustic ballads (“Willow Tree,” “Rabid Bits of Time”) to driving, more dire rockers (“Bones of Man,” “Molten Light”); spirited ebbs of accordions, xylophones and vocal harmonies (“Cries of the Dead”) to gripping guitar hooks, intricate melodies and lush, soaring choruses (“Inside the Molecules,” “Bare Feet on Wet Griptape”). Elsewhere Chad toys with literate, quasi dance-pop songs, invoking the damaged Casio moments of The Flaming Lips (“Phantom Anthills,” “TMNT Mask”) and sparse, acoustic guitar-driven ballads recalling the swagger of Destroyer’s Dan Bejar.

Recorded primarily on an old tape machine and a JVC ghetto blaster in Chad’s Calgary basement, Soft Airplane retains the handmade charm and singular character of his previous records, while incorporating new layers of sophistication and weight. Recalling Neil Young at his most fragile and plaintive, and Thurston Moore at his most resolved and vital, Chad’s emotive vocals anchor these songs while tackling the pervasive themes of death and dreams with an unexpected air of certainty and hope that is far from ominous—instead it’s luminous. Through a complex interplay of guitar, drum beats, loops, samples, found sounds, unorthodox percussion, xylophones, distortion, synthesizers, accordions and more, Chad has made an album that sounds bigger than one man.

It sounds like a lifetime.

Chad Vangaalen sera sur la scène de la Flèche d'Or à Paris le mercredi 24 novembre 2008!