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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of Cale's career
A review of a John Cale compilation in one of the popular music magazines a few years ago said something to the effect that "Cale is doomed to spend his whole career in the shadow of two albums he made in the late Sixties", referring of course to the groundbreaking work he did with the Velvets. In trying to escape that shadow, he has made some of the most consistently...
Published on 6 Oct 2003 by wondrous_glockenspiel

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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contemplative
This 2003 album by the art rock veteran is a great improvement on 1996's Walking On Locusts, but certainly no outstanding masterpiece. The first three tracks, Zen, Reading My Mind and Things are standard Cale numbers, with nothing extraordinary in either the lyrics or the tunes.
The same goes for The Look Horizon, a rock ballad that contains a spoken female vocal...
Published on 4 Jan 2004 by Pieter Uys


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of Cale's career, 6 Oct 2003
This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
A review of a John Cale compilation in one of the popular music magazines a few years ago said something to the effect that "Cale is doomed to spend his whole career in the shadow of two albums he made in the late Sixties", referring of course to the groundbreaking work he did with the Velvets. In trying to escape that shadow, he has made some of the most consistently interesting music of the past three decades. It hasn't always been great, or acclaimed, but his wit and personality have ensured a cult following.
In this album, however, we can see a new John Cale, who has everything and nothing to do with any of that stuff. The first glimpse of the new John Cale (who is, finally, just the old John Cale, only older) came with the release of the "Five Tracks" EP, the best twenty minutes of music released in early 2003, but they are even more evident here. Some things about the new (old) John Cale:
Where the old (young) John Cale made angular songs that shifted radically from melodic melancholy to screaming art-rock, the new old new Cale is more subtle. The musical left turns are still here, but they are handled so elegantly that they feel as though they belong. This is partly to do with Nick Franglen's co-production, partly to do with Cale's beloved Pro Tools software, but mostly to do with Cale's maturity as a songwriter.
Another thing: the new John Cale really likes the Beta Band. Why does this matter? Because this is a thoroughly modern record. Just listen to his tortured falsetto howl on "Magritte" and you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were hearing the best thing Radiohead have ever done. It's not contrived in any way, though: Cale is not trying to be trendy, he is, as always, his own man.
The new John Cale is NOT a nihilist. There is anger here, but it is focused (as on the superbly accusatory "Zen"). None of the old cliches apply, so forget the following: Godfather of Punk! Classically trained! Avant-garde! Mates with Eno! If Cale can ignore these cliches long enough to make a relevent album, then so can you (and that goes for the music press as well).
Best cuts: the witty "Things", already a live favourite, its deranged deconstruction "Things X", the lovely "Caravan" and the devastating "Over Her Head".
All in all, the most intelligent, socially conscious and beautiful album of the year so far.
The Velvet What??
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Album of 2003, 31 Dec 2003
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This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
I have been a John Cale fan for 20 years now, merely a neophyte considering his 40 year career in music. It is amazing that as Cale hits 61 years old, he releases the finest album of his long career (and that includes his numerous collaborations [Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Nico, et al.]). Whereas earlier albums thematically tilted one way or the other-- Paris 1919 = polished pop; Honi Soit = art rock; Words for the Dying = classicism; Walking on Locusts = adult contemporary (this is not an insult); Fear/Slow Dazzle/Helen of Troy = Avant-Pop; Music for a New Society = minimalist rock, etc-- Hobosapiens is a seamless synthesis of Cale's sometimes competing sensibilities. What comes of this is a work of "art" (yeah, I know, it is a music CD, but...) that transcends trends/styles/labels. Repeated listening enriches the experience and reveals the depth, musically and lyrically, of the material. I hope that Cale's current productivity with EMI (5 Tracks, Hobosapiens) mirrors his prolific work during the Island years. I can't wait to hear what's next! Stand-out tracks include: Things, Magritte, Archimedes, Over Her Head, and the incredible Letter From Abroad (as defamiliarizing as Gun was in the 1970's). EMI--> give this thing a formal release in the USA!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary and poetic, 22 Mar 2012
This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
By accident I came across this cd with John Cale. As a lifelong fan of Lou Reed, I know the excistence of John Cale. And what a chock and what an exciting feeling to hear this important music. What an inspirational earthquake. I love this poetic and chaotic music. For this moment on its my most listened record and to me it contains all the good and bad issues in life. Dualism.. Beautiful.

Due to my limited english skills, I will end this review, or else continue in Danish.
From Henrik, Denmark
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another peak in a brilliant career..., 8 Nov 2003
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
John Cale has been involved with so many classic albums- whether as collaborator (White Light/White Heat, The Marble Index, Wrong Way Up, Last Day on Earth, Songs for Drella), producer (The Stooges, The Modern Lovers, Horses, Desertshore), or solo artist (Fear, Helen of Troy, Music for a New Society, Paris 1919).And this is forgetting his frequent film soundtrack work & appearances on tracks by artists such as Nick Drake & The Replacements! The ep 5 Tracks (also 2003) pointed to new era in Cale's brilliant career- whether prompted by a pilgramage to Wales (where he discovered many contemporary bands) or writing his autobiography (What's Welsh for Zen?...something has prompted Cale to release some of his best solo work to date. HoboSapiens (title alluding to an essay on Dylan) is one of those genius albums produced by an ageing artist, passing through middle age (Cale is actually in his 60s now!)- thus it ranks up there with such albums as Alice/Blood Money (Tom Waits), Time Out of Mind (Bob Dylan), The Future (Leonard Cohen),Heathen (David Bowie), Dead Bees on a Cake/Blemish (David Sylvian) & Climate of Hunter/Tilt/Pola X (Scott Walker)Nice to see a hidden bonus track (Set Me Free) at the beginning of the album- even nicer to see this album released by a major label...
Sonically this is very pleasing- the production is shared with one of the members of Lemon Jelly, so again, easily up there with contemporary releases like Heathen/Reality, the last two Flaming Lips albums, SFA etc. Cale sounds very NOW- which is why this is one of the greatest albums of this year, alongside Blemish and Speakerboxx/The Love Below.
Each track is brilliant, an extremely consistent album, highlights including instrumental Bicycle (featuring an Eno drum loop and Eno's daughters giggling!), the ominuous Caravan ("musn't be late"), the single Things (& alternate take Things X- both of which allude to the great, late Warren Zevon & his track Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead, reminding me of Bowie's Heathen- which alluded to George Harrison's All Things Must Pass)& the space-rock of Archimedes. Opening track Zen (following the hidden one) spills out Cale's dominating themes of art and zen, though continuuing the tract of Waiting for Blonde (which alluded to 9/11) and Sabotage's Mercenaries (Ready for War!), there are allusions to the current war in Iraq- both on the sleeve & poetically in the lyrics (which recall Walker's Tilt- a track like Patriot). The Look Horizon is pretty clear, "What a shame we carry on the residue of fools/Instead of better wisdom or advanced tools"; while Twilight Zone takes us into a pulsing electronic blend of hail, picthed between recent Cohen & recent Suicide: "obssession with detail precision with terms" recalling the language of the media war, of politicans weasling through language (Orwellian perversions) & reminds me a little of JG Ballard's book The Atrocity Exhibition (there's even a break with Cale chanting which recalls Fatima Mansions). Best of all is Letter from Abroad, my favourite track & one as ominious as earlier tracks such as Gun, Thoughtless Kind, Rose Garden Funeral of Sores, Leaving It Up to You, Guts etc It opens with a world-music style loop of an acoustic instrument, before a pulsing electronic shuffle comes in & then Cale slips into a megaphone voice: "Afghanistan, Afghanistan: whatever happened to you?...They're cuttting their heads off in the soccer field...Taking them out in the elephant grass feeding them to hyeanas...This is a letter from abroad: life is cheaper back home"- sonically it reminds me of 90s Fall (Free Range, The Chisellers), Eric B & Rakim (Casualties of War), Bowie (I'm Afraid of Americans, The Heart's Filthy Lesson) & Fatima Mansions (Lost in the Former West, Valhalla Avenue). Final track Over Her Head is another joy- a great conclusion to a great album- opening with a fading bell, as a piano ominously begins, with hints of swooping synthetic soundtrack, a divine ballad that recalls Wilderness Approaching- before shifting into a glam-like stomp at the end...
HoboSapiens is another peak in Cale's brilliant career and easily one of the highlights of 2003: a must purchase...
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contemplative, 4 Jan 2004
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
This 2003 album by the art rock veteran is a great improvement on 1996's Walking On Locusts, but certainly no outstanding masterpiece. The first three tracks, Zen, Reading My Mind and Things are standard Cale numbers, with nothing extraordinary in either the lyrics or the tunes.
The same goes for The Look Horizon, a rock ballad that contains a spoken female vocal. Magritte has some moving lyrics over a jagged rhythm with innovative tempo changes and instrumentation, whilst Archimedes is a brooding experimental track embellished by great instrumental touches.
The slow song Caravan is a poetic contemplation of death in moving lyrics and imagery, whilst the up-tempo pop song Twilight Zone mercifully breaks the mould with its buoyant vocals and lilting beat. Letter From Abroad has a harder edge with a complex structure and atmospheric parts, quite an experimental outing.
In general, Hobo Sapiens is a quiet, contemplative album with many similar sounding mid-tempo tracks. It lacks the type of powerful rock song that is so brilliantly displayed on the Island Years compilation. I recommend that album or the other excellent compilation, Seducing Down The Door, if you want to own his best work. But Hobo Sapiens will satisfy the fans.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Treading water, 14 Mar 2006
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
This 2003 album by the art rock veteran is a great improvement on 1996's Walking On Locusts, but certainly no outstanding masterpiece. The first three tracks, Zen, Reading My Mind and Things are standard Cale numbers, with nothing extraordinary in either the lyrics or the tunes.
The same goes for The Look Horizon, a rock ballad that contains a spoken female vocal. Magritte has some moving lyrics over a jagged rhythm with innovative tempo changes and instrumentation, whilst Archimedes is a brooding experimental track embellished by great instrumental touches.
The slow song Caravan is a poetic contemplation of death in moving lyrics and imagery, whilst the up-tempo pop song Twilight Zone mercifully breaks the mould with its buoyant vocals and lilting beat. Letter From Abroad has a harder edge with a complex structure and atmospheric parts, quite an experimental outing.
In general, Hobo Sapiens is a quiet, contemplative album with many similar sounding mid-tempo tracks. It lacks the type of powerful rock song that is so brilliantly displayed on the Island Years compilation. I recommend that album or the other excellent compilation, Seducing Down The Door, if you want to own his best work. But Hobo Sapiens will satisfy the fans.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 14 Mar 2006
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hobosapiens (Audio CD)
This 2003 album by the art rock veteran is a great improvement on 1996's Walking On Locusts, but certainly no outstanding masterpiece. The first three tracks, Zen, Reading My Mind and Things are standard Cale numbers, with nothing extraordinary in either the lyrics or the tunes.
The same goes for The Look Horizon, a rock ballad that contains a spoken female vocal. Magritte has some moving lyrics over a jagged rhythm with innovative tempo changes and instrumentation, whilst Archimedes is a brooding experimental track embellished by great instrumental touches.
The slow song Caravan is a poetic contemplation of death in moving lyrics and imagery, whilst the up-tempo pop song Twilight Zone mercifully breaks the mould with its buoyant vocals and lilting beat. Letter From Abroad has a harder edge with a complex structure and atmospheric parts, quite an experimental outing.
In general, Hobo Sapiens is a quiet, contemplative album with many similar sounding mid-tempo tracks. It lacks the type of powerful rock song that is so brilliantly displayed on the Island Years compilation. I recommend that album or the other excellent compilation, Seducing Down The Door, if you want to own his best work. But Hobo Sapiens will satisfy the fans.
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Hobosapiens by John Cale (Audio CD - 2003)
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