Friday, October 28, 2011

Artificial Madness Brings Connelly Back

When Chris Connelly first announced the upcoming release of Artificial Madness back in May, he promised the album would be a lot harder, acknowledging his former band Ministry in certain ways.

While perhaps equally well known for his role in another Al Jourgensen-backed band, The Revolting Cocks, Connelly's solo career has always seemed mired down in that it was never hard enough compared to his "formative years." But this album proves that his formative years are not behind him.

For years, he has continually progressed as a poet and songwriter, among the most underrated on the alternative scene as he drops in and out of other bands and side projects. In fact, even when his music has taken a turn toward folk, Connelly has always seemed to cover more ground as a musician on his own.

Artificial Madness has everything it needs to become essential.

His upcoming album, Artificial Madness, is no exception. The songs are harder, picking up hints of post-modern rock indicative of a traditional four-piece lineup but with pop and post-punk undertones in his delivery as a singer. As a lyricist and songwriter, he wants bands to ask harder questions. He does.

The album is meticulously crafted, put together and produced by Sanford Parker, who is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after producers for underground music. He was the right fit to work on the album, being able to balance consistency and chaos throughout, much like he did for Yukaza.

It probably didn't hurt that he has always been conformable with Connelly's lineup, having worked with them before. They include guitarist Dallas Thomas (Swan King), bassist Will Lindsay (Nachmystium), and Noah Leger (Tight Phantomz). Together, this band sounds like they've played with Connelly for years.

You can download this track, Classically Wounded, with a quick and simple registration on RCRD. It's old school experimental Connelly, who describes the song as a cautionary tale about a violinist involved in a high-speed chase, ultimately impaled by a violin bow. Yes, their own.

Classically Wounded is first out for promo purposes, but nowhere near as brilliant as Wait For Amateur, a biting satire about modern pop culture using modern theater. Other than the title track, Artificial Madness, it best cuts to the heart of the album. Connelly questions how enamored we've become with technology. He equates always being plugged in as something that comes with a pang of paranoia that we might miss something.

Other highlights include the nonsensical The Modern Swine, the haunting and darkly deliberate poetic reading of The Paraffin Hearts, and the urgency and coldness of both The Subjects and The Goner. Compatibility (the only song he did not write) and Imperfect Star also deserve space on any must have list. Even Cold Blood In Present Company, which is admittedly for those who acquire a taste for his new sound, tackles how tech can misinform to control.

Insanely busy, we're hoping he slows down to produce a video.

Connelly and Relapse Records have yet to release a video in support of the upcoming album. But having run down the tracks a few dozen times, you can expect some people to say that he is back in full form. There is no question he is passionate about the material. All of it is harder but no less spooky than this 2007 clip of Stowaway from Whiplash Boychild.

He did, however, take time out to support Meshell Ndegeocello's upcoming album. He wrote a book, Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible + Fried: My Life as a Revolting Cock. And his website has several hard-to-find demos, some of which can be downloaded (including one from the Revolting Cocks).

His immediate plans after the album's debut is to host a record release party in Chicago. The date is set for Nov. 18 and Connelly has warned that it will be "the first and last gig of any sort for awhile."

Artificial Madness By Chris Connelly Sticks At 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

It's hard to say what kind of coverage the album will get come Nov. 8. If anything, consider it among those rare and essential works because it does return Connelly to his heaviest sound in years. It's better than Shipwreck, arguably among his best work, and certainly his best solo work. Don't mistake anything you've heard from him lately as what you will hear on Artificial Madness.

Currently, Artificial Madness is available for preorder on iTunes. The deluxe issue also has two bonus tracks, British Drug Lords, and a remix of Classically Wounded. Both are worth it. The CD will be out at Barnes & Noble. The standard release can be found on Amazon.
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