Album Mini-review: John Cale — M/FANS
File next to: Leonard Cohen, Diamanda Galas, Einstürzende Neubaten
John Cale has never been one to trade on his Velvet Underground fame; he’s long since left behind the music of those days. His main instrument these days is keyboard, not cello. On Music for a New Society/M:FANS, he presents a deeply melodic, meditative approach. His voice serves as a handy abrasive element that nicely sets off the near-pop textures of his electric pianos. “Taking Life in Your Hands” features keening cello scrapes that fly in and out of the mix like transparent demons in a haunted house. Industrial sounds form the basis of the eerie “Thoughtless Kind.” “Sanctus (Sanities)” feels like the VU classic “The Gift” as re-imagined by Phil Spector. Foreboding and more than a little challenging, M:FANS will please admirers, but isn’t likely to win Cale many new followers.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.