May 2018 13

Chris Connelly - The Tide Stripped BareChris Connelly
Category: Alternative / Rock
Album: The Tide Stripped Bare
Blurb: Dissonant harmonies and psychedelic layers of acoustic guitar lay at the heart of Chris Connelly’s solo work, with his twentieth album showcasing some of his strongest and most vibrant songwriting yet.


 

Never an artist to rest on his laurels, one wonders from what seemingly bottomless wellsprings of creativity Chris Connelly draws from to maintain such a prolific pace. Besides his numerous bands and collaborations, his output as a solo artist is the stuff of legend, and with The Tide Stripped Bare, his twentieth album under his own name, he presents some of his most consistent and vibrant work. Connelly’s ability to channel a multitude of influences into a single identity is perhaps at its most effervescent on this record, for while his lushly melodious croon will perhaps always bear a likeness to David Bowie, it is compounded by traces of the wider spectrum of glam and art/rock.

Take a track like “Jackietown,” its strums of jangly acoustic guitar amid the shrill ambience of sustained keyboards and atonal vocal harmonies underscored by a light beat creating a sort of ghostly ballad of a roguish folk hero. The song builds in momentum to an almost jaunty pace, a subtle galloping synth reminding this listener of a sound heard on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, while the whistles recall the likes of Peter Gabriel, making for a hauntingly evocative track that might be one of his finest moments. Similarly, “Fickle Will” is driven by a strident rhythmic acoustic strumming that belies the complexity of its chord progressions, sounding like a stripped down version of a Pere Ubu track, while splashing acoustic chords amid the colorful phaser effects and slow groove of the bass on “The Blue Fraud” have a distinct ‘70s vibe, such that one might assume the song was written and recorded in the heyday of glam. The same can be said of the processional “Third Bass” and the almost psychedelic “Heart Full of Clouds / Cloud Full of Hearts,” Connelly’s harmonies being especially striking on this track and reminiscent of those Brian Eno used to great effect on Here Come the Warm Jets, the timpani drums and ambient haze of phased acoustic strums, guitar feedback, and light keyboards giving way to a playful display of vocalized rhythms. On the other hand, the title track takes those same motifs into a more discordant and somber atmosphere, and this writer be damned if “Ophelia Moment” is one of Connelly’s most layered and harrowing works, the shriek of distorted guitars beneath the simple but pained piano like a drill to the ears, the song a desperate work of lyrical and musical poetry. Of course, the Bowie comparisons are inevitable, especially with tracks like “New Omen” and the funky “Someone Else’s Rope” recalling the legendary art/rocker’s “Thin White Duke” period pieces, while the similarity of the guitar hook on the opening “Another Song About a Painting” to that of “What’s Really Happening?” off of Bowie’s Hours is more than a little uncanny.

Throughout The Tide Stripped Bare, Connelly employs his trademark wordplay and lyrical curveballs, referencing everything from folk singers and artists to Shakespeare, which along with his eerily dissonant layers of harmonies paints the album in a dreamy world of its own. Noisy ambience fill the speakers from beginning to end to further anchor one in this strange musical ocean, finely crafted but not to such a pristine or polished degree that the character and strength of his earthy and flamboyant songwriting is rendered inert. On the contrary, there is a rawness and an almost punky vibe to the record’s sound that truly makes it a celebration of the time period it conjures in one’s mind. Chris Connelly is very much in his element on The Tide Stripped Bare, and though he is a surely powerful force in the industrial scene, it’s on solo albums like this that his artistic heart and soul shine brightest.
 
Track list:

  1. Another Song About a Painting
  2. Jackietown
  3. Heart Full of Clouds / Cloud Full of Hearts
  4. Fickle Will
  5. New Omen
  6. Someone Else’s Rope
  7. The Blue Fraud
  8. The Tide Stipped Bare
  9. Ophelia Moment
  10. Third Bass

 
Chris Connelly
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp
Armalyte Industries
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Bandcamp
 
2018-02-26
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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