12 October 2005

john cale - "graveldrive" (from the blackacetate lp, available for preorder here.)

in brief : the sound of a house unsettling.

between lou reed and john cale, i've always sided w/ cale. it's nothing against lou reed: my two favorite velvet underground albums are the ones that he masterminded. i just think that cale is a more interesting guy, more apt to experiment w/ his music and his persona, and not frozen behind a pair of aviators and a leather jacket.

he's quietly been on a streak as of late. his last three albums of original material--admittedly, recorded over a span of ten years--have spawned at least three songs that stand w/ his best work: "set me free" from walking on locusts, "caravan" from hobosapiens, and now "graveldrive" from blackacetate, released next week.

"graveldrive" is a simple thing, composed of treated guitar, eno-esque atmospherics--he appeared himself on hobosapiens--and a mournful female voice, an effective counter to cale's throaty wheeze. it's a tone that he affects for this song, and it's entirely appropriate. like i said, it's a simple thing, musically and emotionally; it is, in a way, the perfect complement to a song like "crepuscule with nellie." it's all about the comings and goings of a loved one at a time in life when it seems like the future will soon hold nothing but goings. cale's voice creaks like an old house, as he implores his beloved to take him along. one gets the sense that these are words he never says, but are also words that are never far from his mind. he's set right again by something as simple as the sound of footsteps on a gravel drive, though w/ the understanding that one day that sound will cease--and, w/ that recognition, more appreciative of every step one takes.

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