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Old 10-03-2008, 06:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
Forever young
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 608

Hobo Sapiens. 2003.

This is at times a very accessible album by the usual standards of Cales past. There is one album that is an exception to that and I will discuss that with a review later in the thread. Here that accessibility starts with Zen, the very first track. From Zen’s slow meandering atmospheric pop to the mid paced tales of travelling in Reading My Mind Cale gives the impression that he is out for a bit fun with this collection of tunes. On Reading My Mind the Italian found sounds add a bit of light heartedness to a fine piece of Pop. Things and Look Horizons continue down the same path with each being mid paced pop with lyrics that keep interest up. The lushness of the instrumentation and good production is standing out. We do take a slow and solemn turn with Magritte though. When I first heard this song I was convinced that it was a personal tale to tell but no, Cale said in an interview that he got his ideas for the lyric while sitting around the studio reading magazines. A more adventurous song that after additional plays gets better with time. With the sound of the tide racing along the beach at the start to the then sadly played strings and softly sung backing vocals this song also has a lot of background lushness that only becomes apparent with repeated listen. This has been where I feel that Cale has always been at his best, his ability to quietly add texture to a song. Archimedes has minimalist keyboard whirling under Cales strong vocal and is followed by Caravan. This is an exceptionally strong piece of atmospheric music and is as good as anything that Cale has ever written. With background drone, his sound, whirling away under a steady beat, along with keyboards, guitar and orchestration this leads to a beautifully lush and compelling listen. Bicycle is a tuneful little piece of disposable pop that has Cale and Brian Eno’s daughters Do Do Do Doing away over an 80’s style synth sound with looping thrown in just for good measure. Naturally the next song Twilight Zone ups the pace. Letter From Abroad is the most experimental track on what to this point had been a very accessible album. Should this be a worry? Not really. Cale subjecting us to this type of track, one completely out of sync with the rest of the album, makes him what he is. With Indian style sounds, electronica loops, his vocals at times processed and then with an acoustic guitar strumming away, this is great for those with a prog or experimental bent. Things X is another version of the third track but with his avant garde roots taking over and changing this song into something far less easy to listen to. Again this would appeal to those with a prog or experimental bent. Over Her Head finish’s the album and a fair degree of normalcy is returned with a slow atmospheric song. But is it? Nope. He reaches the last minute of this song and off he goes on a tangent rocking it up with all types of weird and wonderful sounds in the background.

Considering that I stated that this was as accessible as it gets when compared to some of his past solos efforts there is still a fair degree of the experimental in Cales approach, especially towards the end of the album. He is not, nor has he ever been afraid to mix things up. From solid rockers and ballads to the downright avant garde, Cale has really made himself a bit of an outsider. Sometime too odd for those who like it straight, other times too straight for those that like it odd. I rather like that.
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