Chris Connelly's Blonde Exodus (Invisible, 2001), with
arrangements penned by the Bells, continues the saga of
The Ultimate Seaside Companion. The songs build
being correctly compared to David Bowie's Berlin trilogy.
Connelly writes decadent/expressionist lieder that Rieflin and others
arrange with apocalyptic gusto (reminiscent of John Cale's early solo
Connelly's songs leverage a secret weapon: Connelly has become one of the
greatest crooners in the world.
His voice can craft dramatic atmospheres while maintaining a delicate, lyrical,
introverted character. This is best displayed in the lengthy excursion of
Blonde Exodus (in two parts, for a grand total of 15 minutes).
Except for more experimental piano and strings arrangement,
Chris Connelly and Bill Rieflin's Largo (First World, 2001)
is not significantly different from Connelly's solo works.
If possible, his vocals sound madder and lushier.
Private Education (Invisible, 2002) is the most "lo-fi" pop album of
his career. Connelly seems to be retrenching, aching for an introspective,
cathartic music that mostly relies on his emotional and intrepid crooning.
The arrangements of these lengthy homelies
are basically for acoustic guitar and distant echoes of
Harbour Days, Samaratin and The Last Hit Man in Heaven
recall Van Morrison's Astral Weeks minus the psychedelic trance.
Night Of Your Life (Underground, 2004) went to the other extreme:
The Episodes (Durtro, 2007) changed direction:
a collaboration with
Tim Kinsella of
Joan Of Arc
Ben Vida of
Town And Country,
it contains six lengthy
Forgiveness and Exile (2008) continued the collaboration and achieved
Connelly's most ambitious composition, the six-movement rock opera
Forgiveness and Exile. The promising first section, artfully mixing
Van Morrison and
lounge jazz, is castrated by lengthy sections of spoken-word that only
occasionally are matched by adequate music (whether spaced-out jamming or
loose percussion). Two solos of cosmic drumming and a solemn guitar finale
are not enough to justify the whole ordeal.
After the more mundane Pentland Firth Howl (Addenda, 2009),
Connelly unleashed the 51-minute suite and poem of
How This Ends (Lens, 2010)
performed by a ten-piece ensemble.
The High Confessions was a supergroup
with Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Sanford Parker and Jeremy Lemos that
debuted on Turning Lead Into Gold (Relapse, 2010).
There are echoes of the age of
industrial music (Mistaken For Cops) and gothic music (Dead Tenements), and a
sprawling chaotic 17-minute prog-rock jam, Along Came The Dogs.
Connelly turned to glam-rock a` la
Lou Reed and Iggy Pop on
Artificial Madness (Relapse, 2011).
The cassette The Collapse of Ether (The Tapeworm, 2012), possibly his
most experimental work, builds up a massive dark ambience by combining and
multitracking backwards piano parts and slowed-down vocals.
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