Songwriter continues to finely hone his unique, affecting DIY styleFrom Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, self-sufficiency in recording—being your own one-man band—has served as more than just a badge of honor.It's also a disarmingly simple way to maintain consistency over the course of multiple albums, if not a career. On Soft Airplane, bedroom/basement-recording aficionado Chad VanGaalen still plays nearly every instrument in the mix, as he did on previous LPs Infiniheart and Skelliconnection, but something's changed. Where earlier albums could seem scattershot, with tracks independently culled from hundreds of stockpiled songs, Soft Airplane is concise and fully-realized.
And speaking of VanGaalen's countrymen, the surprisingly sweet "Inside the Molecules" finds Mr. VanG nestling a physics-nerd love poem inside some crunchy, nourishing riffs that could make Neil Young crack a smile, even at his most cantankerous. Much like the basement, Soft Airplane is a little scary (and dark and dank), yet filled with untold creative surprises and delights.