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Album Review: Black Mold - Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz


(Flemish Eye)

Never describe an album as "experimental." The word in the music realm has a lot of negative baggage ranging from simply awful to downright unlistenable. With the word being thrown around to describe Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz, the new record from singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen's new side project, Black Mold, I was ready for the worst. Would VanGaalen make a record that was impossible to listen to?

It doesn't start out too promising. The lead track, "Metal Spider Webs," begins with a few sparse string sounds. A few bleeps and bloops come in to redeem the track, but still ends up coming across like the electronic equivalent of guitar noodling. It's a slow build over the next few tracks as more synthesizer sounds start to sprinkle the landscape of the record. Then a few track in, the mood changes. The drums come in and change things from experimental noodling to indie dance party.

IDM elements, lo-fi sensibilities, and those bleeps and bloops that VanGaalen played around with earlier end up coming together to mix in a pleasurable arrangement for most of the remaining songs. Yes, there are a few moments on this album when things get a little slow or feel a little empty and lacking, but after embracing the record as a whole, these moments feel intentional. It's hard to call Black Mold experimental when it's clear that VanGaalen knows exactly what he's doing.

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