Chad VanGaalen – ‘Diaper Island’

Review by Chris Hampton

In Japanese, the word ‘ayashii’ describes that which is eerie, but beautiful and charming too. I bring you this baby lesson in Japanese because no other term manages to characterize the Chad VanGaalen universe quite like ‘ayashii.’ From Infiniheart through the Black Mold project, and now, on his newest, Diaper Island – all ayashii.

On DI, VanGaalen sounds woodsy and organic – sparse percussion over stringed instruments captured without hifi dazzle. But, as always, there’s a ghostly element too – his quivering harmonies, the electronic noise that washes in and out without a markable beginning or end. He seems to speak from beyond this plane, like in some religious fever-dream or séance or psychoactive trip. The whole album plods hazily and blunted – spectral, like a dream or memory.

After a ton of listens, my favourites are ‘Peace On The Rise,’ a lazy, mid-tempo jam with a super memorable lead, ‘Heavy Stones,’ so hash-baked and sunny, and ‘Shave My Pussy’ where CVG’s vagrant voice (accompanied by ukelele) misbegets about desire, love and self-worth.