It was announced Thursday that John Cale is making a new album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, with an expected release on Oct. 2 on Double Six records. With this album, the 70-year-old is continuing on his fixed path of unpredictability, basing this record off self-generated samples, which is something that would terrify many musicians of Cale’s age.
For many he needs no introduction, but if Cale’s name merely rings a bell, it’s probably from his early work with The Velvet Underground and their first two albums, where his viola provided stark counterpoint to Lou Reed’s gutter-level poetry. Cale was with the New York stalwarts for their first two albums, The Velvet Undergound and Nico and White Light/White Heat.
Those two albums helped define an era in New York, gritty but with a vulnerable edge, sexily vacant, worldly but quintessentially local. The early VU work was very much a conversation between Cale and Reed, two brilliant minds trying to cut through a haze of sex, drugs and rock and roll to find something beautiful. Cale’s single-minded viola playing set the template for much of the experimental drone music of the latter quarter of last century, based off of the Eastern music idea that once a certain musical tone was established, every musical note that could hypothetically exist was already present in that tone, and that, by playing notes within the drone, other tones were not created but simply highlighted.
Their specifically New York take on Eastern ideals manifested itself in the seminal work of Television, their scuzz and attitude in the proto-punk of bands like New York Dolls, and willingness to experiment and stretch out of their comfort zones later proving vital in punk’s left turn into New Wave. Cale remained tied to the New York scene, covering LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” with all of the heart of the original.
We look forward to what he’s got in store with Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood.