Chris Connelly – Artificial Madness
Chris Connelly has been a staple of the Chicago music scene since the late 1980’s when he moved here to do time with Ministry and Revolting Cocks after leaving the band he was in prior to that, Fini Tribe. Since his relocation he padded his musical resume with some really impressive work with Pigface, Murder Inc., his own solo work (his Whiplash Boychild album on the Wax Trax label ranks among my favorite albums that label ever released), and most recently with The High Confessions. Not one to rest on his laurels, he has returned once again with a new solo album.
Artificial Madness features Chris’ best songwriting since his debut solo album and is a breath of fresh air with its familiar influences. This is not a return to industrial rock music for Connelly, nor is it an acoustic album. Artificial Madness is firmly rooted in the punk/post-punk category and his writing and singing style is a perfect match for this style of music. The title track starts off the album and it is a fast-tempo number with an early Pil/Killing Joke vibe. It has loud guitars and a driving beat and Chris’ vocals are melodic and smooth as butter. He always had a great singing voice and this time out is no different. When the chorus kicks in the guitars get more aggressive as does his singing. It’s an interesting contrast and quite catchy. “Wait for Amateur” is one of the best songs on the album and is another fast tempo number with early PiL inspired angular guitar lines. Clocking in at two minutes the song leaves you wanting more and will earn multiple repeat listens.
“Cold Blood in Present Company” is another standout with its meaty bass line, catchy synth and melodic verses that really show off Chris’ singing voice which at times is Bowie-esque. “Compatibility” sounds like a lost PiL outtake that was recorded between their first two albums. The rest of the album features mostly Killing Joke/PiL influenced post-punk/punk with a few more melodic numbers and every song on this thing is a real gem making for an extremely solid and satisfying listening experience from start to finish.
It’s great that Chris Connelly is still writing and recording music, it’s even better that not only hasn’t he lost the magic, but his magic has grown stronger than ever with Artificial Madness which is one of the surprise best albums of 2011 and required listening for any music fan with at even a modicum of good taste.