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chadvangaalenChad VanGaalen is a singer-songwriter who garnered all kinds of praise and interest for his 2008 album release Soft Airplane. The album was recently nominated for Canada's 2009 Polaris Music Prize, sharing the list of nominees with Patrick Watson, Great Lake Swimmers and K'naan, among others.

The good news for VanGaalen, a Subpop recording artist, came just a couple of weeks ago, and coincided nicely with his newest music project. Using the moniker of his electronica alter-ego Black Mold, VanGaalen released his new album, Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz, August 11th on Flemish Eye Records.

VanGaalen spent the past couple of years experimenting with vintage analogue and hand-built modular synthesizers to create a new and electifying sound that has drawn parallels to the works of his previous recordings, including the albums Infiniheart and Skelliconnection. But VanGaalen's latest work is an album of instrumental electronica that mixes some old-school techniques, dips and pitches, minialistic themes and touches of distortion in various forms.

On the song "Metal Spider Webs," it's almost as if you can hear a 'metal spider' building a web, which is quite surreal, but poignant. The track "Tetra Pack Heads" is laden with sound glitches that would be annoying to most people, and perhaps intriguing - or not - to fans of VanGaalen's respectable catalog of songs as a singer-songwriter.

While Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz is unlikely to get nominated next year for a Polaris as Soft Airplane has been this year, it is a commendable side project with some impressive mixes. It's always a good sign when artists break out of their known format to take a risk and try something new, most especially when it is driven by a true passion and executed with heart and soul.

"Willow Tree" - Chad VanGaalen from Soft Airplane (2008)

"Metal Spider Webs" - Black Mold from Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz (2009)

"Tetra Pack Heads" - Black Mold from Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz (2009)

Note: It's no secret to regular readers of IRC that we have a deep fondness for Subpop Records, not just because they have an amazing lineup of artists and bands, but also because of their unique relationship building efforts with music fans, bloggers and the media. There are other labels that do this as well - Merge, Labrador, Matador and Saddle Creek, to name a few. Along with Subpop, they serve as models for the successful record company of the next decade.

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