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Over 50 years in the arena of Contemporary Music and John Cale remains as active and unpredictable as ever; is there a more restless and ruminating spark of an artist, who, at the age of 73, admits he still goes to the studio every day and writes? From classical roots as a precociously gifted Welsh boy to modern- classical experiments in New York, that lead to co-founding The Velvet Underground, Cale has filtered that mindset through singer-songwriter, proto-punk and post-punk prisms. His endless fascination has kept us endlessly fascinated, as Cale has consistently created new fissions, including the digital advances of the day, absorbed by hip hop as much as conventional songwriting.
Which is where we find Cale at this precise moment, with not just the re-mastered version of one of his most unique and lauded solo records, the 1982 masterpiece Music For A New Society , but a complete new reworking of the album under the title M:FANS, a record that explores the relationship between old and new, in terms of the sound and vision, and Cale’s memories of the experience, in terms of his life, and the recording. M: FANS ends with “Back To The End”, a previously unfinished outtake that Cale rediscovered among the original tapes, whose haunting spectral mood matches anything on the 1982 record. (This version retains Cale’s original vocal and piano while adding viola). Back and forth M:FANS goes, sampling the original, while creating brand new soundscapes, giving Cale the opportunity for closure on one of the most testing eras of his life, and a way to keep moving forward.
Music For A New Society had a fraught birth, to say the least. With Cale having folded his Spy label imprint into Michael Zilkha’s Ze Records, and retired his band for a run of solo concerts, Zilkha proposed an album to capture this new phase. Rising to the challenge – “a very good one” – Cale created a brief for the exercise; to only allow himself the ten days booked in the studio to complete the record, and to only set the tape rolling when he was ready to improvise. Cale once recalled the recording process as, “like method acting. Madness. Excruciating. I just let myself go. It became a kind of therapy, a personal exorcism.” But that fed into the album’s extreme qualities; its nerve-shredding raw intimacy, its fractured, anguished beauty. In 1982, Music For A New Society sounded exactly like its title: something futuristic, a new kind of songwriting exercise. In 2015, M:FANS is exactly that too, full of electrical crackle and disturbed frequencies, a different kind of dystopian future awaits. John Cale forages on; it’s the only way he knows how.
A1 Taking Your Life In Your Hands
A2 Thoughtless Kind
A3 Sanctus (Santies)
A4 If You Were Still Around
A5 Close Watch
B1 Broken Bird
B2 Chinese Envoy
B3 Changes Made
B4 Damn Life
B5 Risé, Sam And Rimsky Korsakov
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