FILE UNDER: POP, PROFESSORIAL PARANOIA
Please, will someone give John Cale a break? Yeah, the words "Velvet Underground" seem to always follow his name in any given discussion, but fer chrissakes--the old guy hasn't played with them in 36 years, and you know, he has produced some albums since (Patti Smith's Horses; the Modern Lovers' and the Stooges' self-titled debuts). And add to that--albeit on a lesser scale--Cale's own HoboSapiens, a multi-layered marvel that's a textbook example of how dissonant samples can have meaning beyond irony, and of just how insidious pop music can be. The earnest Welshman is in top form here, with atypical tales of art, history and, of course, his own paranoia. Lyrically, HoboSapiens is an album for freshman literature class, where the stoic Prof. Cale connecting the dots between people (Archimedes in "Archimedes"; Magritte in "Magritte") places (Denver and Paris in "Things"; Zanzibar, the Alps and Rome in "The Look Horizon") and things (Zen, cars and girls on a number of tracks). But Cale's arrangements are bold, frequently employing Bjrk-like electronics while relying on an impressive cast of hired hands for further orchestration. Brian Eno lends not only samples (on "Bicycle") but his own daughters as well, who share backup vocal duties. What results is a crisp, utterly remarkable album of depth and accessibility--one that will, hopefully, remind listeners that life for Cale didn't end back in '68.
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