Chad VanGaalen, releases his new album, World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener on March 19, via Flemish Eye/Sub Pop. The LP, was written, performed, recorded, and mixed by VanGaalen at his Yoko Eno Studio in Calgary, Alberta, and mastered by Ryan Morey in Montreal, Quebec. Of his latest offering, “Nightwaves”, VanGaalen shares that it “is about the endless news feed. Giving in to your digital calendar, when all that’s on your to-do list is checking the online updates. Like a William Gibson waking nightmare, boring marketed as sexy.”
CHAD VANGAALEN – BY SEAN MICHAELS
2020 was a terrible year for gardening. It was terrible for peppers, it was terrible for tomatoes, it was terrible for the condition of the soul. But Chad VanGaalen somehow raised a garden all the same: carrots and sprouts and broccoli and a revivifying new album, all of them grown at home. He likes to eat directly off the plant, he says—”I get down on my knees and graze. It’s nice to feel the vegetables in your face”—and the 13 songs on World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener were harvested with just such a spirit: in their raw state, young and vegetal, at the very moment, they were made.
What that means is that the Calgary songwriter’s new album is a psychedelic bumper crop. A collection of tunes that does away with obsessiveness, the anxiety of perfectionism, in favor of freshness and immediacy — capturing the world as it was met while recording alone at home over a period of years. “Don’t overthink it,” VanGaalen told himself again and again, despite the push/pull love/hate of his relationship with songwriting. “I’m always trying to get outside of the song—but then I realize I love the song.”
This is a record that gleams with VanGaalen’s musical signatures: found sound, reverb, polychromatic folk music that is by turns cartoonish and hyperphysical—like ultra magnified footage of a virus or a leaf. Apparently, the LP began life as a “pretty minimal” flute record. (There’s only a vestige now, on “Flute Peace”—one of three instrumentals.) Later it became an electronic record “for a while” and finally, “right at the last second,” it “turned into a pile of garbage.” The good kind of garbage: glinting, useful, free. Music as compost—leaves, and branches ready to be re-ingested by the earth, turned into a flower.
Throughout these 40 minutes, VanGaalen floats from mania to solace to oblivion, searching for zen in all the wrong places. “Turn up the radio / I think we’re dead,” he sings on “Nothing Is Strange”; or, on the inside-out rocker “Nightmare Scenario”: “You’re stressed out when you should be feeling very well.” The singer’s mental landscape is rotting and redemptive, beautiful in spite of itself—and his soundscapes reflect this fertile decay. He has been influenced by his instrumental work on TV scores (Dream Corp’s third season began this fall), but still “nothing can really replace the human voice,” he admits. Like Arthur Russell or Syd Barrett, it’s VanGaalen’s vocals that shine a path through the swampland—from the cello-lashed “Water Brother” to “Starlight”’s krautrock pipe-dream.
World’s Most Stressed Out Gardner
Flemish Eye/Sub Pop Records
1. Spider Milk
2. Flute Peace
4. Where Is It All Going?
5. Earth From a Distance
7. Plant Music
8. Nothing Is Strange
9. Inner Fire
10. Golden Pear
11. Nightmare Scenario
12. Samurai Sword
13. Water Brother
On April 8th, VanGaalen will perform a live stream from his Yoko Eno studio via NoonChorus. The show will be available for viewing in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia at 7PM local time. Ticket holders will be able to stream the performance for 5 days following and will also be able to buy merch. You can purchase tickets for this event here.
World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener by Chad VanGaalen is available for pre-order HERE