By Emily Carney
John Cale turned 70 in March; however, his music proves to be age-proof with his new album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood. Don’t ask; I have no idea about the title, either. Cale does have typically inscrutable album titles.
Usually when musical artists of any sort turn 70, they do endless “farewell” or “greatest hits” tours, or they engage in embarrassing collaborations with a very 1990s-sounding Metallica (I’m looking at you, Lou Reed. Yeah, I said it). Cale is doing neither, refuses to give into age, and is turning out impressive original compositions that aren’t at all dated or misguided. He’s only gotten better and more experimental as he’s gotten older.
The first track, “I Wanna Talk 2 U,” is collaboration with Danger Mouse, and shows Cale to be eminently comfortable with contemporary rather than strictly classical sounds. The album, in general, sort of reminds me of a more modern version of his 1985 opus, Artificial Intelligence, in that it combines “of its time” production values with Cale’s signature piano figures, among other instrumentation (he plays guitar and, of course, viola).
In fact, I think the Artificial Intelligence outtake (and Sid and Nancy soundtrack selection) “She Never Took No For An Answer” is one of Cale’s best songs. Okay, I digressed in this music review, but the whole of Shifty Adventures reminds me of that song—austere and gorgeous. More examples of this atmosphere include the songs “Face to the Sky” and “Mary.” “Nookie Wood” is punctuated with synthesizer bleeps and samples; it’s fantastic and catchy as hell.
Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood shows how John Cale continues to be more of an innovator than a copier, a trend he’s established for well over 40 years. Let’s hope he gets to stay around for at least 70 more years; like Serge Gainsbourg, he’s one of those artists who doesn’t have to wait until death to be realized as immortal (Gainsbourg was described in this manner on an album cover blurb, but it easily applies to Cale as well). Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood is recommended listening.
OCT 03, 2012: THE BUTTON FACTORY, Dublin, IE
OCT O5, 2012: HMV PICTURE HOUSE, Edinburgh, Scotland
OCT 06, 2012: HMV RITZ, Manchester, England
OCT 07, 2012: COAL EXCHANGE, Cardiff, Wales
OCT 10, 2012: THE JUNCTION, Cambridge, England
OCT 11, 2012: HMV INSTITUTE LIBRARY, Birmingham, England
OCT 13, 2012: ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, London, UK
OCT 14, 2012: GLORIA, Cologne, Germany
OCT 16, 2012: PASSIONKIRCHE, Berlin, Germany
OCT 18, 2012: FREIHEIZHALLE, Munich, Germany
OCT 19, 2012: KASERNE, Basel, Switzerland
OCT 21, 2012: ROCKHAL, Esch-sur-Alzette Luxenbourg
OCT 22, 2012: PARADISO; Amsterdam, Netherlands
OCT 23, 2012: KAMPNAGEL; Hamburg, Germany
OCT 27, 2012: CASA DA MUSICA; Porto, Portugal