Exposé Online banner

John Cale — Words for the Dying
(All Saints ASCD09, 1989/2004, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2004-04-01

Words for the Dying Cover artI have to admit an orchestral setting for a set of Dylan Thomas poems reminded me of many of the criticisms for many a 70s progressive rock concept album. John Cale's arrangement of this collection of prose is not much like any else he's ever done though. Enlisting Brian Eno as producer aids in the specific area of arranger focus on delivery and tone. Cale's vocal outside of the rock and roll idiom becomes a focal point unlike any other project I've heard by the man. The synchronicity of the creative process is directly linked to the stark results as Cale worked in parallel with the timing of the British Falklands war. Perhaps the best execution is on "On a Wedding Anniversary," that depicts a forlorn melodic phrase well from the orchestral arrangement. The best mesh of ensemble delivery and solo vocal appears on "Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed," where a boys' choir is also utilized. Cale composed two separate piano pieces without lyrics that are also quite efficient in approach. The first of these is less bleak than the second, which is plaintive and hopeful. An alternate version of "The Soul of Carmen Miranda" co-performed with Eno is also included as the last piece on the disc (an outtake from the Wrong Way Up sessions). Overall the work recalls elements of many of Michael Mantler's works, especially Many Have No Speech or The Hapless Child.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 29, 2004 releases, 1989 recordings

Related artist(s): Brian Eno, John Cale

Latest news

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ivory - Sad Cypress – Ivory was an obscure German band that recorded and released this album in 1979. What made Ivory unique was their leader Ulrich Sommerlatte, a 65 year old musician! At the ripe old age of 22 Ulrich...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues