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Hobo Sapiens – John Cale

John Cale HoboSapiens

Hobo Sapiens

(2003), 7.5/10
Cale was an admirer of the albums that Beck had created with ProTools; in his sixties, Cale signed with EMI and was let loose in a recording studio with 21st century technology. The perpetually creative Cale utilises these tools effectively, and Hobo Sapiens is full of synthetic textures and  trip-hop beats; there’s an addictive loop and bass-line in ‘Bicycle’. While Cale generally sounds comfortable in this environment, he also successfully plays the age card. ‘Magritte’ has a venerable and authoritative vocal, while ‘Things’ might be the wittiest lyric Cale’s ever written, concerning aged love “The sexual exuberance of a concubine checking my carburettor one more time/With the passion of a thoroughbred and the sensitivity of a moose.” The biggest issue with Hobo Sapiens is that it’s overlong – the second version of ‘Things’, titled ‘Things X’ feels superfluous, and it could easily have lost some songs at the end. Hobo Sapiens isn’t among John Cale’s all time best albums, but it’s stunningly respectable all the same – I can’t imagine many of Cale’s contemporaries being able to pull off an album in this territory with such verve and grace.

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