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John Cale — Music For A New Society/M:FANS (January 22/February 5, 2016)

John Cale — Music For A New Society/M:FANS (January 22/February 5, 2016)

 John Cale — Music For A New Society/M:FANS 
♣   THE LONG OUT OF PRINT 1982 MASTERPIECE & A VISCERAL NEW RE–WORKING.
♣   Official, obligatory, obnoxious & obsessive.
♣   M:FANS, a radical new reworking of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, the 1982 masterpiece Music For A New Society,
♣    M:FANS explores the relationship between old and new, in terms of the sound and vision, and Cale’s memories of the experience, in terms of his life and the recording. Back and forth M:FANS goes, sampling the original, while creating brand new soundscapes, giving Cale the opportunity for closure on one of the most testing eras of his life, and a way to keep moving forward.
♣   “Making any form of art is always personal to my mind. During the making of M:FANS, I found myself loathing each and every character written about in those original recording sessions of Music For... ,” says Cale of the reworking. “Unearthing those tapes reopened those wounds.  It was time to decimate the despair from 1981 and breathe new energy, re–write the story.  Then, the unthinkable happened. What had informed so much over lost and twisted relationships in 1981 had now come full circle. Losing Lou [too painful to understand] forced me to upend the entire recording process and begin again...a different perspective — a new sense of urgency to tell a story from a completely opposite point of view — what was once sorrow, was now a form of rage.  A fertile ground for exorcism of things gone wrong and the realization they are unchangeable.  From sadness came the strength of fire!!!”                                                       © Photo credit David Reich
Birth name: John Davies Cale
Born: 9 March 1942, Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Notable instruments:
♣   Fender Precision Bass
♣   Fender Jazz Bass
♣   Fender Stratocaster
♣   Vox Phantom Bass
♣   Ovation acoustic guitars
♣   electric viola
♣   Vox Continental organ
Location:
Album release: January 22/February 5, 2016
Recorded: 2013–2015
Studio: A.R.M. Studio, Los Angeles, CA
Record Label: Domino Recording Co Ltd
Genre: Rock/Electronic
Duration:     103:01
Tracks:
01. Taking Your Life In Your Hands       4:46
02. Thoughtless Kind       2:47
03. Sanctus (Sanities)       6:07
04. If You Were Still Around       3:27
05. Close Watch       3:07
06. Broken Bird       4:46
07. Chinese Envoy       3:13
08. Changes Made       3:16
09. Damn Life       5:12
10. Risé, Sam And Rimsky Korsakov       2:12
11. Library Of Force       4:45
12. Chinese Envoy (Outtakes)       3:35
13. Thoughtless Kind (Outtakes)       2:31
CD 2:
01. Prelude      2:15
02. If You Were Still Around       5:16
03. Taking Your Life In Your Hands       5:41
04. Thoughtless Kind       5:25
05. Sanctus (Sanities Mix)       5:17
06. Broken Bird       5:07
07. Chinese Envoy       3:49
08. Changes Made       3:51
09. Library Of Force (Feat. Man In The Book Excerpt)      3:05
10. Close Watch       5:11
11. If You Were Still Around (Choir Reprise)       4:40
12. Back To The End       3:32
♣   All tracks composed by John Cale; except where indicated:
♣   CD 2/02, 11: (Cale, Sam Shepard)
Notes:
♣   Songs 1 — 13: (Music For A New Society)
♣   Aong 14 — 25: (Mfans)Description:
♣   A double CD release that includes the 1982 masterpiece Music for a New Society and its complete reworking M:FANS. 1982’s long out–of–print Music for a New Society has been completely re–mastered from the original tapes and overseen by John Cale. It includes three exclusive tracks, a previously unreleased recording “Library of Force,” and two out–takes from the original session. On M:FANS, Cale re–contextualizes the original songs into radical new forms to resonate with the digital age. It includes a new recording of “Back to the End,” a previously lost track from the original session.
♣   33 years since its original arrival, January 22 will see the release of the re–mastered version of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, Music For A New Society, alongside a visceral new reworking of the album under the title M:FANS — a record that explores the relationship between old and new, in terms of the sound and vision, and Cale’s memories of the experience, in terms of his life, and the recording.
♣   Overseen by John Cale, the long out of print Music For A New Society has been completely re–mastered from the original files, while its download card includes three exclusive tracks: two outtakes from the original sessions, and one previously unheard gem — ‘Library of Force’. M:FANS re–contextualises the original songs into radical new forms to resonate with the digital age, and contains the new recording of a previously lost track from the original session, ‘Back To The End’.
♣   In 1982, Music For A New Society sounded exactly like its title: something futuristic, a new kind of songwriting exercise. Today, M:FANS is exactly that too: full of electrical crackle and disturbed frequencies, a different kind of dystopian future awaits. John Cale forages on; it’s the only way he knows how.                               © Photo credit David Reich
Review
By Jim Pusey on 12 January 2016;  Score: ***½
♣   John Cale is relentlessly innovative, his latest project is a radical re–interpretation of his 1982 album Music For A New Society. The result is a dramatically different album using familiar building blocks, perhaps a better title would have been Music For A New Century. The 73 year–old Velvet Underground co–founder certainly isn’t a stranger to producing experimental and challenging material, but with M:FANS he seems to have found a balance that demonstrates these traits while remaining accessible. While the word masterpiece is often associated with the original album, I’d stop short of that description for its offspring.
♣   Pleasingly although packaged together here, M:FANS works in isolation to Music For A New Society. It’s a strong album in its own right and shouldn’t be compared too closely to the former incarnations of these songs. There's a sense that this is not a project draped in the usual nostalgia. Cale has chosen to revisit an album that endured a difficult gestation to achieve some closure. Indeed the themes of regret and loss found on Music For A New Society seem just as relevant for the Welshman in 2016 as they did in 1982. While talking about the creation of M:FANS Cale has referenced the death of former bandmate Lou Reed as a contributing factor, and it’s palpable when listening to this new material that a certain exorcism of past pain is being undertaken here.
♣   M:FANS opens with a track that Cale regretted omitting from his original work, a spoken word telephone conversation with his mother. As you’d expect ‘Prelude’ is deeply personal and plays like an ambient daydream. It seems to set the stall out that this is not to be a faithful track–by–track re–adjustment of the original record. The sparseness of arrangement and general absence of other musicians on Music For A New Society is transformed on M:FANS. Cale adopts his more recent style of electronically enhanced instrumentation using a full band with vocal loops and samples. It’s a radical departure from the largely solo and improvised takes on the original.♣   If there is a problem to be found with M:FANS it’s that some of these songs now drown under the weight of the production. Cale’s narrative gets lost somewhat on the industrial sounding ‘Sanctus’ or the newly re–instated ‘Library Of Force’. They’re jarring and unsettling moments amongst some well–fleshed out and nuanced performances. ‘Broken Bird’ and ‘Back To The End’ are both delicate musings that become immersive with the addition of Cale's more recent production techniques. ‘Chinese Envoy’ sounds wonderful with a new Pop sheen that would sit happily on any chart–topping record. ‘Close Watch’ remains one of Cale’s best compositions, but here in its third studio incarnation the additional flourishes seem detrimental, failing to elevate an already classic song. It’s a similar story for ‘Changes Made’, which seemed a little estranged from the other material on Music For A New Society (it’s inclusion was dictated by the record company in 1982). On M:FANS Cale re–claims the song with vigour, but the distorted and driving bass and drums detract from what is otherwise a pretty faultless composition.♣   On a personal level I may still prefer Music For A New Society to M:FANS, but the latter is a very different kind of album that stands strongly alongside Cale’s recent work, of which Hobosapiens has been a particular highlight. That he is able re–visit his previous projects and mine even more emotional resonance on a second expedition is impressive. It’s even more so, when you consider his approach is at odds with the usual minimal effort re–packaging of past glories that hace flooded the market in recent years. Let’s hope that M:FANS has given Cale the catharsis he needed to make more forward–thinking and sonically diverse material in years to come.
♣   http://www.contactmusic.com/
Website: http://john-cale.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/therealjohncale
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJohnCale/_____________________________________________________________

John Cale — Music For A New Society/M:FANS (January 22/February 5, 2016)

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