Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Satellite Walk

Best to start this with a low-content song. Satellite Walk, the final track of 1985's underrated Artificial Intelligence, is a nonsense ditty about nuclear apocalypse. The meaningful lyrics are fairly transparent ("I took my Tomahawk for a satellite walk"). It's not hard to see it as a dig at upper-middle-class self-absorption under the shadow of the Bomb, but your guess is as good as mine. The chorus/coda ("Wake up/Get up/Let's dance") is an injection of "romance" of some sort or another into a sociopolitical song, ala Leonard Cohen's "First We Take Manhattan," Neil Young's "Around the World," and the Who's "Eminence Front." I'd love to know where this idea came from, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was Cohen.

Musically, the song is hookier than average for Cale. Verse lyrics are more or less a spoken-word chant. The chorus is sung with a woman - it's pure hook, with no real melody to speak of either. It's a very tense, rhythmic, jerky song. Metallic, repetitive, stacatto guitar gives the song a very unsettling feel - the best thing about it. The synthesizer line is rather silly. It's very of its time, though, as are the uninteresting bass line and drum machine pattern.

It sounds like a digital recording. While it's far from the worst I've heard of its era, it's still unpleasantly limited.

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