Preview: John Cale, HMV Picture House

John Cale

John Cale

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HE once killed a chicken live on stage, took part in an 18-hour piano-playing marathon, and as a former hard-drug user working on a Happy Mondays album, avoided temptation by eating tangerines instead. Oh, and he used to play in a rather famous band you may have heard of - The Velvet Underground.

John Cale comes to the HMV Picture House next Friday promoting new album, the salaciously-titled Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood. Like all of Cale’s albums, the Welshmen’s latest (and always difficult to pigeonhole) recording contains new experiments and influences.

His screechy viola may sometimes sound as if he’s playing his instrument of choice with a chisel instead of a bow, but, with one of modern music’s most influential personas, Danger Mouse, helping out in the studio, don’t be surprised to hear the 70-year-old dropping in hip-hop beats, a splash of funk and, of course, long drones courtesy of his electric viola. Indeed, the avant garde has long been one of Cale’s fortays, but, really – nookie?

“Well, you know what nookie is,” says Cale.

“But Nookie Wood is kind of a dark place, like Blade Runner, dark. I watched that film again recently and spotted many similarities.”

Released just three days ago, the press blurb accompanying SAINW suggests the music is a lot like looking at, well, a collection of stones.

“When you look at a precious stone you’re trying to figure out what it is about this thing that is so enticing,” says Cale. “In each of these songs there’s something that is enticing. For me, it’s the rhythm, for other people it’s the textures. The tracks take you on a journey.”

Last seen in Scotland in 2006, and last seen in Edinburgh with the Velvets in 1993, Cale’s still very much a bit of a hipster.

His gigs can divide critics, but he remains a compelling figure.

John Cale, HMV Picture House, Lothian Road, October 5, 6pm, £20, 0844-847 1740.