From venomous and gristly rock (Guts, Sabotage/Live) through instrumental music and affecting spoken word (his adaptation of fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas' poems), Cale has never been predictable. On his last outing blackAcetate he enthusiastically embraced hip-hop beats.
He's also been an important producer (Patti Smith, Modern Lovers, the Stooges, Happy Mondays among them) so it's no surprise that for this album he does his own drum programmes alongside playing piano, guitar and electric violas, and has Danger Mouse on the enticing opener I Wanna Talk 2 U.
At first blush this collection seems rather straight-ahead because, the clattering programming and sonic swoops aside, these are taut and cohesive songs which err towards stuttering rock or his piano-framed ballads.
But that daring spirit becomes increasingly evident in edgy and sometimes menacing production on Face to the Sky and the title track where rock guitars and hip-hop beats collide around his disconcerting and gravitas-filled vocals, and strange voices behind the latter which wobbles on liquid beats and stabbing funk guitar).
Later he toys with Autotune (December Rains where “soft porn rioting in now on-line” and the floor-shuddering Mothra), ethno-forgery (the distorted Vampire Cafe) and songs which almost sound in danger of being washed away by haunting effects.
Cale is a rare one and although you need to decode his lyrics (think politics and dissent and the recent London riots, it helps) he again punches his way out of whatever box you might have had him in.
By Graham Reid, posted