“Pentland Firth Howl” press release

Chris Connelly

Pentland Firth Howl
 Vinyl LP
Limited edition of 300 w/free digital download version

Choosing our very first release for the newly launched Addenda Records was a surprisingly easy task. We’ve long been enchanted by the majesty of Chris Connelly’s work, so we considered ourselves honored that he would allow us to release his latest endeavor in a limited vinyl format.

Chris Connelly is an artist’s artist. He writes music as emotional ventilation, though each approach is a conscious decision. With every successive return to the studio, an untried mode of recording needs to be found, a fresh set of accompanying musicians culled, a different tone established, and a new challenge formed. A Chris Connelly album isn’t conceived haphazardly, and that dedication to the process and continued development as an artist is the reason behind his lengthy, acclaimed and diverse discography. Henceforth, it feels cliché to say that Pentland Firth Howl sounds nothing like anything before it in the Connelly catalogue, but it’s true. Just like each of the more recent albums by the Chicago-based avant-garde singer/songwriter – Night of Your Life, The Episodes, Forgiveness & Exile – are distinctive from one another, Pentland Firth Howl distinguishes itself brilliantly from the pack. And if you would rather take the wider scope, very little from this refined affair resembles the industrial-disco of his past: Ministry, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, Fini Tribe, Murder Inc. and The Damage Manual. That is besides the emotion.

Pentland Firth Howl is just so quiet and so austere. Connelly is in the forefront of the sober mix with little else contributing to the momentum, an approach rare even with his lengthy back-catalogue. His Scottish accent flicks the end of each line, alveolar trills elongated into soothing vibratos. The incessantly rhythmic acoustic guitar that has driven the latter half of his career is still present and continues to shade Connelly’s nocturnal vocal tone with a monochromatically shimmering shadow. The tempo may have slowed, but the expanse of the recordings has certainly not recoiled. Instead, Connelly sounds as if each lyric within every snaking croon is directed candidly to the night sky. They are somber declarations of a life well lived.

Only joining Connelly in the studio is guitarist and producer Zak Boerger. His off-kilter electric guitar nocturnes create an elegant underpinning to Connelly’s spartan arrangements. These loose auxiliary melodies add just enough of a counterbalancing tone to enrich the recording without overbearing it. The music becomes a worthy vehicle, poignant songwriting melding with structured improvisation, for Connelly’s enigmatic poetry.

It seems odd that Connelly would name this album – one of the most composed in his career – after Scotland’s Pentland Firth, notorious as a home to some of the fastest tides in the world. Perhaps the Howl is more of a goodbye. With a career of tumultuous currents and fierce tidal shifts – used as an analogy to both the sounds and the stories behind them – reaching full maturity, it seems appropriate to dedicate an album to the coda. Hopefully this isn’t a final voyage though, because as this album so deftly proves, Chris Connelly is still creating some of the finest music of his career.