A warped and mutated blend of the futuristic and the organic, Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz is the debut album from Black Mold - the electronic alter-ego of songwriter and 2009 Polaris Finalist Chad VanGaalen. With Black Mold, VanGaalen is allowed the freedom to explore the wildest tangents of his instrumental work, using a broad palette of glitches and noise married with the warm hues of acoustic instruments. Guided by a free-associative approach to songwriting, the songs show the full-blown instrumental side that VanGaalen hinted at sparingly on his own albums.
The product of several years of late-night instrumental experimentation, mainly on vintage analogue and hand-built modular synths, Snow Blindness… is at times glitchy and unpredictable while at other times Teutonic and sparse. The album opens with a baffling and beautiful composition, “Metal Spider Web #2″, a lattice of cello and clarinet complemented by shifting electronic pulses. In the dreamlike and metamorphic title track, subtle oscillations and erratic surges build before settling into a simple layering of acoustic guitars and drums. Elsewhere, other songs utilize 8-bit beats & warped synthesis to create multi-layered rhythmic patterns. Snow Blindness… comes from a basement stacked to the ceiling with broken and discarded devices and poorly wired technology fused with organic instruments, all jury-rigged to somehow work together in sequence - and often acting with no masters.
Fans of VanGaalen may draw immediate parallels between Black Mold and the early electronic groundwork of “J.C.’s Head on the Cross” (Infiniheart, 2005), the enigmatic synthesizer lines of “Red Hot Drops”(Skelliconnection, 2007) or the quasi-literate dance styling of “TMNT Mask” (Soft Airplane, 2008). While many songs embody the spirit of the more accessible pop-based leanings of VanGaalen’s solo work, the debut album from Black Mold is the product of an artist bent on creating a personal soundscape.
Sometimes re-working the tradition of modular synthesizer pioneers such as Wendy Carlos, Tomita or Jarre, at other times cutting a swath through contemporary sample-based territory, the album is strewn with musique concrete pastiches, creative use of circuit bending and manipulation, and an intuitive and intelligent understanding of rhythmic minimalism. Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz will be driving late-night parties as well as providing the hung-over soundtrack to the aftermath.