Album: John Cale <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

blackAcetate, EMI
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With 2003's Hobosapiens, John Cale played catch-up with contemporary digital recording technology, enlisting Lemon Jelly's Nick Franglen to help structure an enjoyable series of sonic collages, trance textures and trip-hop beats. In that context, blackAcetate: seems like a step backward, with Cale this time calling on funk expert Herb Graham Jr and alt.rock audio stylist Mickey Petralia to make a more mainstream contemporary rock/funk album. Which isn't to say it entirely lacks fascination, just that its low points are less redeemed by musical curiosity: the heavy psychedelic rock of "For A Ride" could be Echo & The Bunnymen, while the grizzled indie-rock stomp of "Perfect" has a distinctly Nineties cast. Things are better when Graham's funk influence plays a bigger part, with the febrile electro-soul of "Hush" recalling Jamie Lidell's recent work, and the opening "Outta The Bag" sounding like some mutant cross between Curtis Mayfield and The Neptunes. Between the poles of those basic rock and soul influences are spread a range of approaches taking in the gentle folk-rock apologia of "Gravel Drive", the throbbing bass pulse of the Zen-like "Satisfied", and the refurbished country-blues of "In A Flood". Furthest out of all is "Brotherman", a semi-improvised avant-techno exercise.