John Cale 

HoboSapiens (Or Music)

Quick -- name an artist who began his career in the '60s and is still pushing the parameters of popular music in the new millennium. Once you check off Dylan, Bowie, Richard Thompson, Neil Young, and Lou Reed, the choices wind down rapidly.

John Cale, Reed's onetime partner in the Velvet Underground, should be on that list, too, if not for output -- it's been eight years since Cale's last set of songs, Walking on Locusts -- then for work with a challenging, occasionally subversive subtext. HoboSapiens, an arch, adventurous series of ominous, atmospheric soundscapes that incorporate techno, trance, and tense, undulating ruminations, is in keeping with that tradition. The emphasis is on the unexpected, from the beat-steady incantations of "Bicycle," "Things," and "Things X," to the undertow of "Zen" and "Twilight Zone." Despite occasional similarities to Bowie, Roxy Music, and Peter Gabriel, an adventurous approach gives HoboSapiens its singular sound.

More by Lee Zimmerman


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