Since shedding their folky roots in Minneapolis years ago and recreating themselves in Portland, …
There is always something interesting about watching a generation go through the parenthood process. It marks a distinct change in personal lives–our own, friends’ and family’s–but it is also a ride that we can take vicariously, as well, through our cultural icons. Each generation’s musicians and artists go through a phase of reckoning with existential concepts, and the mindfuck of sudden parenthood is certainly a catalyst.
On Light Information, Canadian alt-rocker Chad VanGaalen wrestles with this next phase of life—parenthood—by looking at it through a prismatic lens of aging, lost loves, isolation and of course, internet paranoia. VanGaalen departs from his more alt-oriented roots to get weird, mixing in monosynth instrumentals and psychedelic hooks.
“Mind Hijackers Curse” opens the album with a catchy, warbling chorus that melts into a bass-driven hook. VanGaalen plays with the song structure a bit, a literal framing of the song’s them: the passage of time and its effect on the aging psyche of a loner. “You’re so scared to be adored but more scared to be alone,” he sings, as the synth bends and pops around him.
The theme of disembodiment or depersonalization arises time and again throughout Light Information. On some levels, it’s a theme VanGaalen has spent nearly the entirety of his discography exploring, but when put within the context of what it means to lose oneself to the unconditional love of a parent to a child, it takes on a less melancholic hue. “Pine and Clover” could just as easily be about a past flame or about seeing the reflection of a kinder world in the eyes of a daughter (both VanGaalen’s daughters make a vocal appearance on the record). It evokes an image of a simpler time when someone, or something, allowed you to let your guard down enough to feel a momentary weightlessness in life. “Pine and Clover” is also the most stripped-down tune on the record, with just a slightly distorted guitar and minimal synthesizer.
Instrumental track “Prep Piano and 770” (in reference to the Korg 770 monosynth that appears throughout), finds VanGaalen digging deep into a collection of wobbly, ethereal sounds that propagate the album. As the lone instrumental on the album, the track paints a dark contrast to some of the twangier elements, counterbalancing some of the subtle heaviness.
On Light Information, VanGaalen perhaps sees a sliver of light at the end of his journey of intense self-exploration. Maybe he doesn’t necessarily find all the answers he’s looking for, but there is a weird peacefulness that results from the cumulative experience. »