Chris Connelly

Artificial Madness

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The blasting electronic rock rip that begins Artificial Madness shows that, regardless of Chris Connelly's explorations over the years toward the quiet and contemplative, he can still happily rock out when he chooses too -- in some ways, his Fini Tribe and Ministry/RevCo years have never left him, even while he perfected his beautiful croon of a voice. One listen later in the album to "The Modern Swine" and its fast-paced motorik clip shows just as clearly that those Krautrock roots that David Bowie celebrated in his own fashion not only still have a relevance but, in Connelly and company's hands, have a just as enjoyable energy still. The fact that the title track can shift into "Wait for Amateur" almost without losing a beat, and while sounding a bit like the same song, helps establish the immediate feeling throughout, but Connelly also keeps an ear out for variety and sudden striking moments. It can be the chiming slash of the lead guitar on "Compatibility," a cover of a song by Visitors, an early Connelly inspiration from the immediately post-punk days; or the conclusive wooze "A Career in Falsehood," a reverb-heavy (on the vocals) and zoned-out crunch; or something else again. If anything, there's a weird timeliness to this kind of post-punk aggro return -- "Classically Wounded" could almost be a royally pissed-off early U2 number musically, minus Bono-esque bleatings -- while the brisk jauntiness and tight, nervous vocal delivery of "The Subjects" and the slightly slower feeling of "The Paraffin Hearts" are two other strong moments on a great blast of a record.

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