John Cale - Black Acetate
With a lot of music at the moment sounding like a weak, half-hearted trudge through the back catalogues of lesser known bands of the late 70/80’s, before turning up to the CD:UK studio to mime to a fiasco in a ‘will this do?’ sort of way, its rather nice to see an album from someone who has consistently produced challenging and interesting music for over three decades.
Black Acetate sees see the dour Welshman on form once more. Opening track, ‘OuttaTheBag’, might take you by surprise, with its easy lilt and high pitched vocal whilst funky electronic swells and pitches roll and sway underneath but its on ‘ForARide’ that the album really comes into its own. Cale’s voice has never sounded more poetic or dark and no-one could make a line like ‘I’d love to drive you round Paris and Rome’ sound so sinister. It’s got a killer gentle hook as well and builds to a lovely, subtle climax.
In all, this is an album with tricks up its sleeve. No sooner has it lulled you into coma with the delightfully ethereal ‘Satisfied’ than it’ll pull the carpet from right underneath you with the gurgling squelch of ‘Hush’. Then, it might bludgeon you with the easy, hard blue riff of Sold-Motel. Now, here’s a thing, a blues riff and even that’s done with enough pizzazz to persuade you it’s not the sort of thing that’s been done a million times before. It sells itself with the relentless nature of the shape of the song and nigh on perfect production and, of course, its still has an ounce of unpredictability that sees it through even the cliché of the guitar break that comes two-thirds of the way through. Then it morphs into the electronically sparse ‘Woman’ with its swirling guitar driven chorus. Genius.
This is a fucking great album. One that will be a good friend should you let it. 14 immaculately produced and intricate songs vying for your attention like hookers in an Amsterdam shop window. Unpredictable and constantly engaging, it’s a mashed-up jam of electronic and acoustic layers of sonic experimentation - Cale’s easy vocal is the cherry on the top of an embarrassingly rich cake. If the kids ain’t interested in singing anything new then thank god for old farts like Cale who are.