Wed 1 Feb 2012
Pirates of the Weird and Wonderful
The excitement of 9 new Chad VanGaalen tracks landing in my inbox is a little bit overwhelming, especially when it’s delivered with news of a split 12″ with the ever evolving and extremely weird Xiu Xiu. The 12″ is the second release in a series of amazing collaborations being pedalled by German label The Altin Village & Mine Records. The first release came in March 2010, featuring the primal drone of Oneida and the swooping vocal melodies of Pterodactyl. Chad VanGaalen’s contribution displays the eerie brilliance of a modern musical chameleon, whose work continues to evolve and mature. His songs have a confidence that’s been missing from his past two records, sounding less fragile and more astutely balanced. There’s moments of self-indulgence and reflection, but his storytelling is more defined, revealing and romantic. Opener ‘Your Own Mind Ends’ tells off a bitter dispute between loved ones, before jumping into the Simon & Garfunkel-esque ‘Evening Sun’, full of paisley strings and wooing vocal melodies. ‘I Want You Back’ tries hard to be the record’s highlight; a brash reminder that he is not just a folk musician, thrashing out a lively grunge inspired number similar to ‘Freedom For A Policeman’, off his mesmerising second album Diaper Island. ‘Nothing Is Impossible’ continues the assault in classic Jay Reatard style – a speedy guitar-driven punk song repeating the title lyrics. And then proving nothing is off limits, he gently slides into a beautiful folk ballad titled ‘Weighed Sin’, with harmonica and acoustic guitar folding into one another.
Xiu Xiu, or more specifically Jamie Stewart’s contribution requires it’s own lengthy explanation. His side of the 12″ is a spoken word piece that requires the physical record to properly engage with it’s complex (or simplistic, depending on how you view it) lack of musical formality. The record will come with lift out liner notes containing a set of questions. The listener is required to read a question aloud and then to drop the needle anywhere on the record to hear the answer. Stewart has aptly titled his side of the 12″, ‘Fortune Teller’.
The record label currently has no distributor in New Zealand but with any luck you should be able to pick up a copy via the many world-wide distributors listed on the Soundcloud link. The 12″ is officially on sale from March 17.