Review by Michael Toland - The Big Takeover
What an interesting career arc CHRIS CONNELLY has had. Though most famous for his association with ALAIN JOURGENSON and the bands MINISTRY and the REVOLTING COCKS (a time summarized by Connelly’s tell-all Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried: My Life As a Revolting Cock), the Chicago resident is also the auteur of a long-running if under-the-radar solo career that began as arty pop, expanded into a sort of glam rock balladry and finally evolved into the experimental acid folk of his most recent releases The Episodes and Forgiveness & Exile. Pentland Firth Howl, a song cycle about Connelly’s native Scotland, follows suit but strips down to just voice and guitar, with occasional accompaniment by producer ZAK BOERGER on atmospheric six-string.
For the most part, this works splendidly, as gorgeous cuts like “Goodbye, Waveland,” the anguished “It Has Not Brought Me Peace,” the Andy Fairweather Low cover “Wide-eyed and Legless” and “The Felled Wych Elm (Sighting of a Ghost at Bavelaw)” have the intimacy and melodic backbone to channel the artist’s soul right into the deepest parts of your understanding. But lengthy tunes like “Half in Light Arisaig Eyes” and “An Accident in Scottish Wilderness” become numbing, begging for additional instrumentation to flesh them out into something less impenetrable. Fortunately, the hits outweigh the misses here, making Pentland Firth Howl another strong record in a catalog deserving of more praise and notice.