Guest Spots: Chris Connelly’s track-by-track breakdown of Artificial Madness

Chris Connelly: Artificial MadnessChris Connelly: Artificial Madness (Relapse, 11/8/11)

Chris Connelly: “Wait for Amateur”

[audio:|titles=Chris Connelly: “Wait for Amateur”]

Chris Connelly, formerly a member of industrial bands Ministry and Revolting Cocks, is set to release his 15th solo album in November. Entitled Artificial Madness, the record is guitar-driven rock that wears its contrasting pop and post-punk influences proudly. A month before its scheduled release, Connelly took some time to run through each song, explaining lyrical content and narrative themes.

Track-by-Track Breakdown of Artificial Madness
by Chris Connelly

Here is a breakdown to the lyrics on Artificial Madness. I’ve never really done this before. It’s always been my intention to leave a lot of things ambivalent, giving the listener a few red herrings here and there. Perhaps I’ll leave some stuff buried in there…

1. “Artificial Madness”
The protagonist is not really a person — more of a collective consciousness built from panic and paranoia. The city and landscape are fabricated, and all the aggressors or distractions are metaphors. Here we have the crux of the album: the “artificial madness” brought on by the deity that is technology. It can be used to enslave parts of our minds, conscious or subconscious, and it can also serve as a control tactic and a mind-numbing drug. Why do we feel the need to talk and keep in touch with each other so much? Because we are panicking and fearing some sort of apocalypse? I recently read that the Taliban turned off all cell-phone communication at 8 PM in an urban area that they had control over. Control and fascism — always at work.

2. “Wait for Amateur”
The emperor’s new clothes. A satirical song about modern pop culture using modern theater (namely Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot). Can you tell if the play is being superbly or horribly acted? Are the actors playing us? Taking us for a ride? Is the director making fools of the actors? (Make a mark in the ground with a primitive tool.)

3. “Classically Wounded”
A high-speed chase on a wet night, and a violinist is ultimately impaled on his/her own violin bow. A cautionary tale.

4. “Cold Blood in Present Company”
War being waged via technology, misinformation, independent contractors (mercenaries), and the torture of innocents to glean information that will result in the deaths of thousands. Like I said earlier, fascism is very good at adapting to the times.

5. “Compatibility”
The song on the album I did not write. This song was the A-side of a single by the Edinburgh band Visitors. It was actually taken from a John Peel session. When I discovered Visitors in 1980, it was a very important revelation. They were my seniors by a few years, and I attended many of their gigs, eventually becoming friends and allies with them. My band, Fini Tribe, would often play gigs locally with them. It was they who taught us how to play gigs, it was guitarist Colin Craigie who taught me guitar, and it was through them that Fini Tribe learned about change, about moving forward always, never playing the same thing twice, and not being afraid to challenge your audience at every juncture. I am lucky enough to still be in touch with them, and will forever value their teachings.

6. “The Modern Swine”
An absurdist wordplay. Phrases cut up and thrown awkwardly together. A game of Scrabble with Eno.

7. “Imperfect Star”
No matter how bright the sun, it cannot expose everything.

8. “The Paraffin Hearts”
Strategic bombing of multiple inhabited targets at night. The bombs all have combustible “paraffin hearts.” Entire villages wiped out before they wake.

9. “The Subjects”
This person is able to open fire on a crowd and merely observe with casual interest the reaction and the consequences of his actions. Not people, just “subjects.”

10. “The Goner”
The same asshole that stars in “The Subjects,” only this time it’s one on one. He’s a serial killer — an impotent one at that.

11. “A Career in Falsehood”
People lie. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the harder it becomes to lie, with more and more ways to prove people wrong, the better we are at doing it. People’s minds can crawl around any lie and turn it quickly into a truth to suit them. I used to give most people the benefit of the doubt and be stupidly happy with that; now, I think that most people are lying to my face.

Leave a Comment