John Cale, ever restless, returns with the deeply collaborative ‘Mercy’

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A promotional image of musician John Cale. It is black and white and John Cale is resting his head on one hand.
John Cale.
[Marlene Marino/Courtesy of the artist]
“If you go and end up in a corner that you feel uncomfortable in, something will happen and you’ll come up with a solution,” explains the influential, always restless John Cale. “That’s kind of my mantra.”

Since co-founding The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed late in 1964, he’s done exactly that, time and time again, whether on his own, deeply alive records, as a producer for other envelope-pushers (Sham 69, The Modern Lovers, Nico) or as a composer for film.

Now an octogenarian, Cale returned to that uncomfortable corner for two-and-a-half years to create Mercy, his first new album of original material in over 10 years. The record features deep collaborations with more vernal, still wildly imaginative musicians – including avant-dance producer Actress, the expansionist vision of folk singer-songwriter Weyes Blood and the silty slink of Fat White Family, among others.

To hear the full conversation, use the audio player at the top of this page.