John Cale

By - Jan 1st, 2006 02:52 pm
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By Eric Lewin

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Postmodern music sure is ironic. �Progressive� bands such as Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Warlocks and the rest of the MySpace-endorsed shoegazers generally make their way by rethreading Velvet Underground�s effects and hypnotic hum, some pulling it off more ably than others. Even more ironic is that John Cale, Velvets� second-in-command behind Lou Reed, refuses to overtly borrow from his old band. Black Acetate has its influences, to be sure, but none of them hung out with Andy Warhol.

Acetate plays like a Frank Zappa record in that it relies heavily on eerie effects, creepy voices and funked-out Mothers of Invention-style bass lines. A well-lit room is recommended during the spooky �Brotherman;� when Cale groans that he writes �reams of this shit every day� in a Leonard Cohen grunt, it�s downright terrifying.

For better or worse, Acetate doesn�t dwell in the horrific for too long. Hell, it doesn�t dwell anywhere for too long. Cuts like �Gravel Drive� and �Satisfied� are undeniably beautiful, not to mention flavorful, when positioned next to rockers �Sold-Motel� and �Perfect,� which border on danceable.

Trying to outrun a monster legacy like Velvet Underground at all costs is an impossible task that Cale doesn�t attempt. While Acetate contains minimal elements of White Light/White Heat, it comes filtered through Velvet-inspired records such as Love and Rockets� Earth Sun Moon. A musician being influenced by musicians that he himself influenced? All this post-modernity is confusing, but it sure is fun.  VS

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