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KB article in Stereo Review

Date: Sun, 15 Dec 85 15:20 MST
Subject: KB article in Stereo Review
Reply-To: RLLeatherwood%System-M@CISL-SERVICE-MULTICS.ARPA

Subject: KB article in Stereo Review


     Kate Bush is a spellbinding storyteller, a vocal acrobat, and an
intriguing composer and arranger.  What she hasn't been credited with until
now is a pretty voice.  In fact, Bush has always gone out of her way to make
her listeners uncomfortable.  That's changed with her new album, "Hounds of
Love." This time Kate Bush will meet you halfway.

     Although "Hounds of Love" deals with a lover's murder and death by
drowning, compared with her brilliant but difficult 1982 release, "The
Dreaming," it's positively tranquil.  The bizarre vocal tricks--roller-coaster
phrasing and digitized, reassembled voice--that characterized the earlier
album have been relegated to occasional ornamentation, and the lurching,
fits-and-starts rhythms of "The Dreaming" have given way to more conventional
rhythms rooted in African and Irish folk music.  Bush's singing here is
sensitive, almost girlish.  It may be a compromise, and it's certainly not as
daring as its predecessor, but you're far more apt to be able to sit through
it without suffering an anxiety attack.

     The new album is actually two mini-concept albums.  Side one, also titled
"Hounds of Love," is the more elusive since it is less about love than about
some of love's attendant emotions--fear, alienation, rage, and confusion.  In
the title song, for instance, the narrator compares falling in love to a fox
being chased down by hounds.  Much of the "Hounds" marches along to steady,
galloping rhythms.  Bush employs drums very much the way Peter Gabriel does,
setting the music in motion through a succession of violent climaxes and
hushed pauses.  Her vocals carry on a dialogue with, in turn, piano, drums,
and bass, and they are shadowed virtually everywhere by a Fairlight backing

"Hounds" is far more pleasant to listen to than to contemplate, and the same
is true of side two, "The Ninth Wave," which re-creates the last moments of a
drowning victim, an eternity of recollections and hallucinations compressed
into a few final breaths.  Here the electronic effects are more
integral--whirring helicopters, bullhorns, tangled tape-loop voices, chiming
synthesized church bells, echoing snatches of conversation, and a host of
fantastic characters hurtle into and out of the victim's ebbing consciousness.
Bush's vocals, which explore a range of feelings--terror, sadness,
resignation, and, finally, euphoria--are posed against an instrumental tableau
in which sttrings, piano, and synthesizer shift in and out of the foreground.

     The growing sophistication of Kate Bush's compositions, arrangements, and
production techniques does not obscure her unique, weird point of view.  Only
she could make such macabre subjects so seductive.

Written by Mark Peel in the January 1986 Stereo Review.  Reprinted without

  -Robb Leatherwood