reviewed by Michael Thomas
What is there left to say about Chad VanGaalen? He’s onto his sixth album, and he seems to have an endless amount of creative energy. He sings convincingly about ghoulish things and equally as convincingly when he sings a rare love song. He’s predictably unpredictable, injecting weirdness whenever he sees fit, and it always fits.
Light Information has all of these things. I can easily imagine his unique music videos accompanying many of these songs, because the sci-fi element of many of these songs is so strong. In the grungy “Host Body,” he sings “The future has become unwoven” and volunteers to be the titular host body for a group of parasites. “Mystery Elementals” starts quietly but doesn’t take long to explode with fuzziness with some extra help from Ryan Bourne, and the elementals of the song remain mysterious, with VanGaalen conceding “We never understood it anyway.”
Instrumentally the album is as interesting as ever. In at least one song on each album VanGaalen takes a folk song and makes it weirder, and “Pine and Clover” does that here, with a sort of twang to his guitar-playing. “She’s born a million times over,” he repeats, “With a mind full of sweet-smelling pine and clover.” His ultimate creepy song is the instrumental “Prep Piano and 770” which features a Korg 770 monosynth. It’s the kind of ominous music you’d expect in a horror movie as someone enters a cursed temple or something. But there might be a creepier song in “Static Shape,” if only because of the heavy contrast of the song. It’s uncharacteristically bright, with a bit of flute at the beginning and a beat you can groove to. He even has his daughters as backup singers!
Nearly every song has a little nugget you need to think over. In the scrappy “Golden Oceans,” he suggests going to a body of water to see what’s hiding there. In the excellent “Mind Hijacker’s Curse,” which is idiosyncratically a VanGaalen song, he sings “She has nobody.” But it could just as easily be “She has no body,” so deep is his storytelling. In the otherwise tender-sounding “You Fool,” he casually mentions “I lost my disembodied head.”
It’s good that VanGaalen resurfaces with a new record every few years. He can always reliably fill Canada’s weirdness quotient.
Light Information will be out this Friday, September 8.
Top Tracks: “Mind Hijacker’s Curse”; “Old Heads”; “Static Shape”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*