Chad VanGaalen - Shrink Dust
Released April 29, 2014
By Morgan Berna
Created to accompany the upcoming animated sci-fi cartoon Translated Log of Inhabitants, Shrink Dust gives listeners a glimpse into a calmer, more serene aspect of VanGaalen’s mind. Widely claimed as being VanGaalen’s country album, Shrink Dust couples acoustic guitar and ethereal vocals with the occasional harmonica. The album is linked by the calm demeanor of the tracks, and even when synths are introduced they never break the mold. For those who appreciate a diversity among songs, this album may be found to be lacking this quality. However, what Shrink Dust presents the listener is a more cohesive, focused sound that is beautiful in its simplicity.
Certainly the guitar rifts on some of the tracks play tribute to the intended country vibe, however the lyrics, like those of track Cut Off My Hands, “Cut off both my hands and threw them in the sand, watched them swim away from me like a pair of bloody crabs,” don't fit into country music stereotypes by any means. As is expected from VanGaalen's music labels don't tend to do it justice, and while the album has a country vibe VanGaalen has very much taken his own spin on this genre. Where Are You, a hazier song, feels more acidic than country. With almost incomprehensible lyrics, it sounds like it was recorded in space. A notable track, Lila, has country aspects accompanied with choral elements and electric guitar. However, Weighed Sin is easily the most country song of the album with the harmonica solos. Other tracks on the album share an upbeat rock feel, like Monster, a surf-rock track that leaves us all wondering, "Was that actually a didgeridoo?" Or, Leaning On Bells, an upbeat garage-rock track with crash cymbals and a fast beat.
Fans who are interested in seeing a more focused version of VanGaalen's work will definitely appreciate Shrink Dust. It has enough fascinating aspects to the tracks to maintain the listener's interest throughout, and the musicality maintains the same high standard we would expect from VanGaalen. Ultimately, Shrink Dust gives the listener a clearer, more intimate look into VanGaalen's mind than previous work, making it an enjoyable listen.