New novel - Truth and Lies in Murder Park: a book about Mr Luke Haines Available May 26th or pre-order now frombenben press or amazon


Written with the full cooperation of John Cale and incorporating exclusive interviews with important figures from all phases of the musician's 35-year career, this biography explores the man who has successfully transcended the boundaries between classical and popular music. Cale's music – from the Velvet Underground onwards – has been a passionate assault on accepted musical forms, and his processes of deconstruction and reconstruction are illustrated by detailed accounts of his albums, live shows and relationships with other artists such as La Monte Young, Brian Eno and Lou Reed.

Exhaustively researched, Sedition and Alchemy also contains the first full discography of John Cale's work to date.


'Tim Mitchell's biography reminds us just how singular [Cale's] journey has been... Even the danger of overfamiliarity with the Velvet Underground canon can't blunt the excitement of reading how Cale helped produce such a glorious, unprecedented pile-up of high and low art when he formed the group with Lou Reed in 1965. But arguably the most fascinating aspect of this book is Cale's post-VU solo career' - Wire

'A wholly successful account of Cale's extraordinary life and work... a revealing and fascinating look at Cale... This is the real thing, bolstered by Mitchell's exhaustive research and interviews conducted with friends, collaborators and enemies of Cale's... a treasure trove of hilarious anecdotes, many dating from Cale's years as a live performer in the 1970s, where drink, drugs and a desire to shock turned this somewhat mournful fellow into a raging, raving lunatic' – Waterstone's Online

'Cale's maniacal and anti-social behaviour recorded in all its theatrical gruesomeness... enthralling' – New Zealand Herald

'Many pleasingly odd side-stories (for example, that while recording an album in 1980, Cale became interested in acquiring the material to build a nuclear bomb)' – The Guardian

‘Appearing soon after Cale’s 1999 autobiography, What’s Welsh for Zen... (Sedition and Alchemy) approaches Cale’s story from a more objective, analytical stance, giving us a much clearer frame in which to see the life Cale shared with us in his autobiography through vivid yet impressionistic anecdotes... It is a fascinating journey back and forth across the Atlantic, combining artistic surrealism and surreal politics in a way that few would have thought compatible... Whether or not we actually agree with Mitchell’s final analysis – that Cale is a political savant channelling an increasingly surreal world – we have to give him credit; he’s done his work. Given the importance of Cale as a musician crossing classical and rock boundaries, this is to be welcomed. And it should encourage you to read this book’ – Rain Taxi

‘Why another book on John Cale?... In Sedition and Alchemy... author Tim Mitchell fills in the holes left by the ex-Velvet Undergrounder’s artsy, confessional work, providing a more convincing picture of Cale’s career’ – Austin Chronicle

'Solid research and musical insights... a 'must' reference for any Cale fan' – Midwest Book Review

Buy from amazon

Sedition and Alchemy page at Peter

Originally also available as a
numbered limited edition hard-
back with a free CD featuring
an exclusive recording and a
short story by John Cale, and
individually signed by him.
Translated into French
as ‘Sédition et Alchimie’

Buy from
home emailTruth and Lies Light Fields Sonic Transmission John Cale Jonathan Richman News from Other Planets Hexentexts