Chad VanGaalen: "Somewhere I Know There Is Nothing"


By Scott Reid | 14 July 2005

So the tracklist for the new Infiniheart is finally making rounds, and outside of the absolutely bizarre "Human Totem" cut (the song I secretly wish I could be sharing for download), Sub Pop made the right choice. They got rid of not-terrible-but-not-interesting-either instrumentals "Dolphinariums" and "Graduated Assassin," going two important steps further in making Chad VanGaalen’s perpetual debut one of the finest of the ’00s.

Now, if you’re thinking "he’s talking like I should already know this guy," well, you should. But his record’s only been available on small Canadian labels, so there’s been almost no way to hear of the guy, let alone buy his album, and you likely won’t until Sub Pop graciously make it available to more than twenty people. True, that doesn’t do you much good until September, so here’s some downloads to help the situation.

You can hear "Clinicly Dead" (sic) and "Traffic" at the Flemish Eye site (it’s free, the songs are great, why not), but neither capture the incredible starkness of VanGaalen’s bedroom recordings as well as "Somewhere I Know There is Nothing." It not only embodies the record’s largely disheveled, isolated feel —- some acoustic guitar, layered vocals stuck in minor keys, traces of percussion, countless other noises and instruments loosely floating around —- but gives it as much focus as the melody. The song splits half way through, letting sonar bleeps and (what sound like, but obviously isn’t) bird chirps carry the unmistakably cold atmosphere of the track.

It’s far from being the only great song on the disc, but it is likely its best; VanGaalen’s voice is just that little bit more haunting, the production more organic, the hook stronger and the lyrics ("I know there is nothing at all that’ll bring you back to me / So maybe you don’t notice it / Because you’ve gotten used to it") as desperate and affecting as anything else he’s written ("1000 Pound Eyelids" excepted). Why wait until Pitchfork freaks over this to give a damn?