Articles tagged with Black Mold

Chad VanGaalen breaks the Mold (pun!)

Black Mold - Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz
Calgary singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen specializes in quirky bedroom pop, a style which earned his 2008 album Soft Airplane a short-list nod for this year’s Polaris Prize. But as fans know, his albums also feature twisted instrumental set-pieces and bizarre stylistic left-turns. Soft Airplane ended with “Frozen Energon,” which was nearly four minutes of guitar feedback, pulsing synth noise and directionless drum pounding. “JC’s Head on the Cross,” which appeared on his debut, Infiniheart, was a similarly wonky instrumental, with barely-in-tune guitar plucking and a stuttering electro beats.

On previous albums, such moments were oddball interludes; on Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz, released under the moniker Black Mold, they’re the main attraction. The album is entirely instrumental, and there’s nothing here that remotely approaches a structured pop song. Rather, nearly every track features glitchy drum loops and squelching, buzzy synthesizers. Even melody is hard to come by, with “Dr. Snouth” being made up of nothing more than R2-D2-style blips and bleeps.

The fact that VanGaalen chose to release the collection under the alias Black Mold, rather than use his own name, is indication enough that this is more of a self-indulgent experiment than it is an attempt to recreate the magic of his previous albums. Still, it has plenty of moments of prettiness, from the purring clarinet of “Metal Spider Webs” to the meandering keyboard leads of “Wet Ferns.”

mp3: “Metal Spider Webs”

The album isn’t likely to appeal to the same CBC Radio 3 crowd that voted “Willow Tree” the “future classic” of 2009. Still, as a document of a restless artist at his most unhinged, it’s well worth a listen.

Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz is out now via Flemish Eye.
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VanGaalen lets his freak flag fly

So long as logic prevails, Chad VanGaalen is a lock for this year’s Polaris Prize. He’s up against a strong set of nominees (most notably Joel Plaskett and Hey Rosetta!), but it’s tough to deny the brilliance of his 2008 release Soft Airplane. The album is sonically fascinating, with ramshackle acoustic instruments set against fractured, squiggly electronics. But it’s VanGaalen lyrics and melodies that are the real focus, with timeless songs like “Willow Tree” and “Bones of Man” transcending the limitations of lo-fi bedroom pop.

This August, VanGaalen will release another album, this time using the moniker Black Mold rather than his own name. The album is called Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz and is intended to emphasize his experimental leanings. The album is entirely instrumental, and based on the two tracks that have already been released, it covers similar ground to “JC’s Head on the Cross,” a track from 2004′s Infiniheart. “Metal Spider Webs” begins as a baroque dirge, with haunting horns, strings, and a gently tinkling glockenspiel. Futuristic electronics soon take over, with feedback swells marring the prettiness of the intro.

mp3: “Metal Spider Webs”

“Tetra Pack Heads” features a frenetic glitchy beat and vaguely tropical synth riffing, recalling the madness of Dan Deacon without the dancefloor-ready payoff.

mp3: “Tetra Pack Heads”

Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz is due out August 11 via Flemish Eye.
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