Alan Chapell hasn’t had the usual musical trajectory that might be assumed of someone who veers between ‘80s art-pop angularity and a spry jangle pop shimmer. The New York musician, who records simply as Chapell, has spent years traveling the globe, absorbing countless rhythmic aesthetics and countless experiences as he attempts to discover his own complicated relation to music and the world around him.
“I feel like I’m discovering myself as an artist in a way I never could have earlier in my life,” Chapell explains. “For too long, I bought into the notion that I couldn’t become a successful artist after age 30 – and it was liberating to recognize how foolish that was. The most invigorating thing is that I don’t feel I’ve written my best song yet.”
Fascinated by music from a young age — he learned to play trumpet and piano before he was 6 — he took to its intricate associations as effortlessly as breathing. He would go on to record with legendary producer Jimmy Ienner when he was 15 and has recently spent time with Talking Heads alum Jerry Harrison. But music isn’t his only passion; Chapell is also a staunch advocate of online privacy, working as an advisor to companies regarding the need for heightened privacy practices. His work is informed by these ideas and often features personalities and themes which lend themselves to deserved scrutiny.
His forthcoming record, “Penultimate,” due out June 15, is the result of him bridging his musical and professional experiences, creating a landscape where his loose melodic impulses can wrap themselves around a handful of pointed social issues.
On recent single, “Ride,” he presents a hypnotic alt-pop atmosphere where strings shiver, guitars are strummed and Chapell’s voice rises above it all to lead the way. The chorus is wonderfully over-sized, with enough emotional weight to shake mountains. The song is proof enough of his ability to turn familiar musical elements into something unique and utterly compelling, a shimmering wonder that refuses to loosen its hold on your senses even after the last notes fade away.