â€œRunning with the legends of conspicuous menâ€¦â€? (Magritte)
Bestriding the history of cerebral rock like a mighty Welsh colossus, John Cale remains an indefatigable presence on the musical landscape, a fearless exemplar of all that is righteous, transcendent and uncompromising about the true avant-garde. He is, letâ€™s not be coy, a living legend.
Famed for everything from â€˜60s internships with classical revolutionaries John Cage and La Monte Young, to epochal contributions to the Velvet Underground, landmark production duties for The Stooges, Nico and Patti Smith, feted collaborations with Brian Eno and Lou Reed and abundant soundtrack and orchestral detours; to trace John Caleâ€™s uniquely influential career is to affirm rockâ€™nâ€™rollâ€™s higher calling. And thatâ€™s not to mention the manâ€™s 16 album-strong, song-based solo oeuvre â€“ a repertoire whose highlights are universally acknowledged as being among the finest in the canon.
John CaleAt 61, Cale could be forgiven for kicking back â€“ but questing polymaths donâ€™t â€˜doâ€™ laurel resting and the super-fit squash fanaticâ€™s energy levels are those of a man half his age; as is his antennae for the cutting edge in contemporary music.
Inspired by the uninhibited bravado of Beck and the nonchalant eclecticism of The Beta Band, amongst others, Cale has spent much of the last two years billeted in his Greenwich Village basement studio, mastering the 21st century musicianâ€™s paint box, Pro Tools - revelling in the freedom and complete creative control the digital technology affords. The first fruit of this recording renaissance, in which shimmering, disembodied electronics couch remarkable new songs and densely detailed arrangements are ratcheted up to new heights, is HoboSapiens, Caleâ€™s first full-length album of songs in seven years.
A twelve-track cavalcade of sample-laden rock, Grand Guignol balladry and unclassifiable instrumental exotica, HoboSapiens is a consummate John Cale album in the noble tradition of Paris 1919, Fear, or Music For A New Society - albeit with a modernist twist. Holding a magnifying glass to global human Diasporas, its lyrics zoom cinematically from Zanzibar to Pacific Palisades via Niagara Falls and the Norfolk Broads â€“ its frame of reference positively encyclopedic.
Opener Zen, for example, marries a witty treatise on international conspiracy to some dark, digital funk; while the magisterial Magritte ruminates on the eponymous surrealist painter to the sweep of Caleâ€™s trademark viola, his chorus falsetto soaring memorably. Letter From Abroad and Caravan, meanwhile, chew the geo-political fat with a retinue of chilling vocal punctuations, electronic flourishes and Eastern embellishments.
But angst is only one element of HoboSapienâ€™s intrepid remit. Production assistance comes from Nick Franglen â€“ one half of Uber-chill out duo Lemon Jelly and the latterâ€™s signature frolicsome grooves and heartwarming atmospheric daubs nudge their way into the hypnotically rhythmic Archimedes, the almost jaunty Look Horizon and the optimistic, hook-laden instrumental, Bicycle. Two versions of Things - perhaps the albumâ€™s most immediate song â€“ mark out HoboSapienâ€™s parameters; one a drop-dead gorgeous pop-rock sing-along, the other a grinding essay in noirish claustrophobia.
A stealthy intoxication for both heart and mind, then, HoboSapiens must rank alongside the most compelling chapters in John Caleâ€™s peerless musical chronicle - proof positive that this indomitable icon is striding into his seventh decade with passion, wisdom and intellect blazing.
Or Music is proud to have been selected by John Cale to release this stunning new album in North America.