Chad VanGaalen
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Chad VanGaalen


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There are few things that make me happier than a great album coming out of absolutely nowhere and Infiniheart marks the first of its kind that I've experienced in 2004 -- and, with a series of slightly disappointing releases from some of my favorite acts like cLOUDDEAD, Sarah Harmer, Destroyer and Iron & Wine on the horizon, it really couldn't have come at a better time ... let me just say this: Infiniheart is a stunning achievement that perfectly showcases VanGaalen's many talents -- singer, lyricist, songwriter, producer and arranger -- and though its epic length might be off-putting at first, it won't take many listens before you're clamouring for even more. - Scott Reid, March, 2004

...his days toiling in obscurity are numbered.Infiniheart can quickly induce a dreamlike state even if you've had a few coffees, but it's more akin to lucid dreaming: the sense of being captive in another world, but with the freedom to choose what you experience. ... Not unlike the prairie itself, the beauty of this recording resides in both its spaciousness and apparent desolation.
- Helen Spitzer

"An intimate, intelligent, and always transporting cycle of songs that sends VanGaalen closer to his own voice and, in the process, closer to us." 
- Pitchfork

"At the end of the day, Soft Airplane is probably the best record I've heard all year - from Canada or anywhere else - and should solidify VanGaalen as the musical talent his fans have long been been screaming to anyone that would listen"
HERO HILL (#1 Top 20 2008 Canadian LPs)
- Herohill

"Much like the basement, Soft Airplane is a little scary (and dark and dank), yet filled with untold creative surprises and delights."
- Paste Magazine

"pretty close to perfection."
- Chart Attack

"this is a finely drawn, funny, animated, and gumdrop authentic record, never less than fascinating in its endless and disburdening involutions."
COKE MACHINE GLOW, September 2009
- Coke Machine Glow

Chad VanGaalen
(Flemish Eye/Sub Pop; 2006)
Rating: 83%
By Scott Reid and Aaron Newell
September 4, 2006

"It's this kind of intrinsic disregard for musical template that keeps VanGaalen from falling into cliche categorical foxholes, writing samey songs in the same samey styles. Of course, it doesn't hurt that his tunes are all beautifully sung (often layered, a wavering falsetto over his mild tenor) and cleverly arranged, as only he could, since he builds most of his instruments. And though he has access to and can play more instruments than he's able to list in the liner notes (maybe he should consider one of those Architecture in Helsinki dot-charts, except he’s just one person, not eleven), he rarely uses the same combination or effect twice. Instead, he's constantly changing setups and approaches to his recording, toying with each song's atmosphere and tone to keep it all from getting monotonous, especially when he's retreading similar ground. Just compare the light, sole bass drum and electric-guitar-as-muted-trumpet bounce of "Graveyard" with "Wing Finger's" loose, rhythmic banjo and "Rolling Thunder's" haunting, nearly claustrophobic vocal mix. He's not always so subtle in how he presents his songs -- i.e. the pounding distortion of "Flower Gardens" or nuzzling synths of "Red Hot Drops"; the kind of stuff that pops out even on cursory listens -- but, like Infiniheart, a great deal of this record's appeal rests in its smallest details and touches, which can be as affecting as moments like "Dead End's" operatic chorus, just way easier to miss." - Coke Machine Glow

From a Calgary pizza shop to opening for The Pixies
Chad VanGaalen takes unplanned detour from his bedroom studio

"It seems to fit well with the way VanGaalen's life has been going since his debut album Infiniheart -- a mix of moving acoustic material cut with glitchy electro beats -- was picked up by Seattle-based label Sub Pop and given a worldwide release in 2005. He's a long way from where he started in the music business -- busking." - National Post


Infiniheart - Flemish Eye 2004/ Sub Pop Aug 2005
Skelliconnection - Flemish Eye/ Sub Pop August 2006
Soft Airplane - Flemish Eye/ Sub Pop September 2009



A notorious homebody, Chad VanGaalen is well known for rarely leaving his basement in Calgary, endlessly drawing, recording and making art. Fortunately, he has an uncanny knack for creating music that is sweepingly beautiful and undeniably genuine, and with his third full-length Soft Airplane, this celebrated multi-talented artist has created his most complete album to date.

With Infiniheart (2005) and Skelliconnection (2006), Chad displayed an innate understanding of simple pop melody and a penchant for intellectually playful arrangements. Compiled from years of hidden back-catalogue and lo-fi CD-R releases, both albums went on to receive critical acclaim from across the globe. While his first albums hinted at musical reference points (that even Chad seemed to be reluctant to embrace), Soft Airplane reveals an artist utterly in stride – confident enough to span genres, while working with a determined and deliberate focus.

Sometimes the most powerful of musical expressions come from the most hushed and unassuming sources; with Soft Airplane, Chad Vangaalen has created one of these rare, heartfelt and gripping moments from the depths of his cluttered basement. Fortunately for him - and us.