October 10, 2005


In a career which features cultural landmarks from Andy Warhol to Shrek, and collaborators ranging from LaMonte Young to Super Furry Animals, John Cale has proven that for this maverick Welshman, business as usual means delivering the unexpected. blackAcetate:, his second album for EMI and first for Astralwerks after 2003's acclaimed HoboSapiens, maintains this unpredictable consistency.

HoboSapiens saw Cale liberated by the potential of Pro Tools, which allowed him to harness a variety of sounds to make music that was unachievable via traditional analog recording. The result was an album acclaimed as “radical” or even “vintage Cale”. This time around, the aim was a more ensemble feel, with more traditional instrumentation, including electric guitars, making for songs that could be played live without a mountain of computer equipment. But while there are recognizable instruments aplenty, complementing beautiful, simple melodies, the surprises keep on coming from the very first song.

Working closely alongside Cale on blackAcetate: are Herb Graham Jr. (Macy Gray) and Mickey Petralia (Beck, Rage Against The Machine, Dandy Warhols, Eels). The powerhouse trio have come up with an album of incredible music and production values, a reflection of the standards Cale has always set: from his early work with the Velvet Underground; his 22 solo studio albums; production for Patti Smith, Nico, Squeeze, the Stooges and the Happy Mondays.

John Cale's current listening includes Gorillaz, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and most of the music emanating from the production powerhouses of Dre and Pharrell: “I love the working atmosphere Dre generates,” he enthuses, “it's a music factory and that's something I aspire to”. For the most part, these artists demonstrate that the musical eclecticism Cale has championed for four decades is alive and well. They have also inspired Cale's own take on urban grooves and rhythms: “I'm interested in funk, and if I'm good at that, then that's another string to my bow.”

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