Friday, July 10, 2009

Review -- CHAD VanGAALEN -- Soft Airplane

SOFT AIRPLANE
Chad VanGaalen
Flemish Eye Records
8-out-of-10
Well, it doesn't take long to recognize that you are listening to something pretty unique when you start spinning Chad VanGaalen's Soft Airplane.
On the opening cut Willow Tree the vocals are about as high on the vocal charts as the male voice can go, reminding me of Tiny Tim. That is not meant as a reflection of style, only of the vocal range that is the catch on Willow Tree.
While it stands out for the high vocals, I was glad that on the second cut Bones of Man the vocals were down to a more normal range.
Hailing from Calgary, this is VanGaalen's third recording, and he is obviously a naturing artist in the sense that he has the technical aspects of recording well in-hand.
Musically, VanGaalen is an explorer, touching on a range of styles as he progresses through this CD. Cries of the Dead for example has a near 1960's British rock feel.
With Willow Tree there is the aforementioned high-pitched voice, as well as tossing an accordion into the instrumental mix, played by Matt Flegel.
Bare Feet On Wet Grip Tape is a song with an infectious beat that has a sort of art nouveau musical approach.
While there is a bit of a varied approach here, there are underlying stylistic elements which hold the CD together in a cohesive fashion.
VanGaalen is a musician who likes to push the edges of music, exploring, reshaping what is already there in ways to make them his own. He manages to do that in some rather creative ways here.
Yes this is a CD which will be an acquired taste for many, but I recommend you open your mind and go with VanGaalen as he explores. It's an interesting trip.
Check it out at www.flemisheye.com

-- CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper June 24, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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