Back to The Sensual World album page
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Greg O'Rear)
Date: 21 Sep 89 17:29:56 GMT
Subject: Re: KATE'S NEW ALBUM (Spoilers, long)
OK, now I have heard it, and will comment below. If you wish the album to remain a mystery, please stop reading this message.
This album improves with repeated listenings, due to (1) I know this is all there is, so I better like it; (2) I can understand more of the words; or (3) the novelty has worn off and now I can listen to the record instead of the newness. With this said, I can describe it generally as not as good as HoL, sort of like "Experiment IV: The Album." Many of the songs sound as if they were offered by "singer-songwriter" Kate, not "musical artist" Kate. There are 3 good reasons to buy it, however: (1) Kate, (2) Trio Bulgarka, and (3) Mick Karn.
***** - Great by any standard
**** - A pretty good Kate song
*** - Straightforward, for Kate
** - Must be by someone
* - other than Kate :-)
The Sensual World - Dominant Irish instruments, but playing an eastern sort of scale. Lyrics are hard to make out at first, but after more listening... well...whew! *****
Love And Anger - The rhythm reminds me of "Big Sky", percussion oriented. "Yeah!" ***1/2
The Fog - Strings borrowed from ExIV, pipes, seagulls, acoustically oriented ballad, turns out quite nice, actually. *****
Reaching Out - Moves from a piano ballad to a pretty mainstream sounding piece. Commercial. Add 1/2* if you recognize and appreciate the Bulgarian influence on her vocal at the very end of the song. ***
Heads We're Dancing - Strongly rhythmic, odd, has the amazing Mick Karn on bass (no liner notes, but it HAS to be him!). Kate has been taking singing lessons from Tiny Tim :-). Add 1/2* if you like Mick Karn. ***1/2
Deeper Understanding - Mick on bass, Trio Bulgarka here. Theme (superficially): computer. **** (If you think this is too high, remember I love the hell out of Mick Karn's bass playing and Bulgarian choir vocals. If you think it's too low, give me a few days. :-)
Between A Man & A Woman - Hard to describe, not very memorable. ***1/2
Never Be Mine - Pipes, Del on bass, Trio Bulgarka, interesting theme. ****
Rocket's Tail - Trio Bulgarka with a vengeance! If you like Bulgarian choirs, this one's for you. First half is a capella, then suddenly becomes Pink Floyd (not in a bad way. Mick on bass. *****
This Woman's Work - Identical to soundtrack, except for lack of background voices just before she starts the verse. You've heard it. *****
Walk Straight Down The Middle - Not sure if this is an extra B-side, since the previous song would have been a good album closer. Odd, noises, strange, not incredibly appealing. ***1/2
Anyway, there it is, in brief. Obviously this based on just a few times of listening to it. Any of the songs I seemed to like less could therefore have a leeway of 1/2* quite easily. Also, this is all a matter of taste anyway. Since I don't have lyrics, I can't report about the actual song content. One way to describe it: you remember how you felt when you got HoL home and sat down and played it all the way through? Well, this isn't like that; you will be able to speak afterwards (and perhaps during). Oh, yes, all numbers above are relative to Kate (not the general public, otherwise they'd all be *****). Enjoy.
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 89 21:31 PDT
Subject: k O M P U t E R W A R N I N G ! H I, K A T E ! ! !
IED has just finished speaking with Vickie, of Kansas City. She is the dj of the KC, MO radio programme called "Suspended in Gaffa" (Saturday nights, 10-12 p.m.), and next week she will give several tracks from Kate's new album their U.S. (world?) premieres, so all Love-Hounds in the KC, MO area are advised to tune in Saturday night.
But that's not the warning! The warning comes from Vickie, who has been listening to the new album all afternoon. She alerts all Love-Hounds that one song on the album, called Deeper Understanding, is about USING THE COMPUTER !!!!
Apparently you can even hear her booting up! So everyone watch out! Kate is probably listening in!!! HI, KATE! WE'RE ON TO YOU NOW!!!
-- Andrew Marvick
Other descriptions of the new album: the track that was heard very briefly and in a rough version on the Rhythms of the World programme last March in the UK is the song called Rocket's Tail, and it is described as extremely "weird", and "hard for even the most diehard Kate fans to adjust to." IED doesn't quite know what was meant by that. In all, three of the tracks feature the Trio Bulgarka on backing vocals.
From: Doug Alan <email@example.com>
Subject: Some thoughts on a sensual world
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 89 16:13:55 EDT
I've had *The Sensual World* LP for a little while now and I figure that I've digested it enough to be able to say a few words about it. I'll also might say a few word about my interpretation of some of the songs. (When I use the word "Kate" in describing the plot of a song, let it be understood that I refer to the protaganist of the songm not the real-life Kate, since each particular song may or may not be autobiographical.)
I think the new album is wonderful (of course!). However, I'd still burn all of my albums (including all of Kate's other albums), rather than lose *The Dreaming*. This album is included. I also don't like it quite as much as *Hounds of Love*. It has some incredible material on it, but unlike *Hounds of Love* it has a couple of tunes I don't really care for. Also, there is nothing on *The Sensual World* that hits me over the head with a two-by-four, the way that "Waking the Witch" or "Jig of Life" does on "Hounds of Love".
I have a friend, Laura, who LOVED *The Dreaming*. She didn't like *Hounds of Love* as much, but she LOVES the new album. She says that her favorite song on *Hounds* is "Watching You Without Me" (my least favorite song on the album), and that most of the new album reminds her of this song. It doesn't sound that way to me, though, or I probably wouldn't like the new album too much.
The Sensual World -- when I first heard this song, it sounded a bit too etherial for my tastes, though I did really appreciate the Indian-sounding music being played on Irish instruments. After a while, this songs really starts getting under your skin, however, and sets in deep roots. We all know what it is about by now, so I won't say anymore about it.
Love and Anger -- I don't like this song too much. It's okay, but Kate can do much better. The rhythm sounds like it was ripped off from "The Big Sky" and the music doesn't strike me particularly. I don't hear many risks in this song. The background vocals are nice and Kate does some nice things with her voice. I haven't spent too much time contemplating the meaning of this song because the music doesn't drag me in. Jon's musings on the song seem apt to me.
The Fog -- An incredible song. Songs like these are why I worship Kate Bush and this one song is worth an least ten albums by almost anyone else. The most sensual and moody song ever written. It's deep and dark. Get the idea? The lyrics are clearly about being scared of love -- a common theme of Kate's, but not one that can be said too much about.
"This love of yours was big enough to be frightened of.
It's deep and dark like the water was,
the day I learned to swim."
Does this give us any insight into "I'll be two steps on the water"?
Reaching Out -- I can't stand this song. To me, it sounds cliched and overdone. It sounds to me like a bad Barbara Streisand movie soundtrack song. IED says I am pathetic for thinking so, but the majority of the people I have talked to think this song sucks. Laura, who if you will remember, LOVES the album, says that this song is "pathetic". My girlfriend made me turn off the tape deck when this song came on. Joe Turner says it sounds like a bad Journey song --even more so than "Not This Time". Larry Deluca said that it was indeed cliched, but that it works incredibly well anyway. The lyrics are okay. They are about how we strive to extend beyond ourselves by wanting to explore the universe and other people.
Heads We're Dancing -- This song is pretty darned good. But for Kate it's nothing special. Those who have been following the discussion know that it's about some evil bastard who flips a coin. If it comes up heads, he dances with the woman. The matter of what happens if it comes up tails is still in the air. Some people believe the bad dude is Hitler. [Errata: now that we have the official lyrics and Kate's statements about the song, we know the dude *is* Hitler.]
Side two. Here's where the album gets unrelentingly awesome.
Deeper Understanding -- A beautiful and sad song. This is the first song where Kate's exquisite weaving of Bulgarian folk music with her own appears. The song seems to be about someone who is lonely and sad. They acquire some sort of marvelous computer program that is intelligent and becomes a good friend. At the end, we hear a voice that says "I hate to leave you". I think that this indicates that the program has decided that Kate no longer needs the program as a crutch and can stand on her own feet now, and so the program must leave. Another possibility is that Kate has grown up and has decided she no longer needs the program as a crutch. Jon Drunkbrain says that it indicates that Kate has been forcibly separated from the computer by her evil, nonunderstanding family. I disagree. Kate is not this morbid.
The story of this song reminds me of "Puff the Magic Dragon" or "Peter Pan", where a magical being helps children who have sad childhoods, but must eventually watch them grow up and leave them.
Between a Man and a Woman -- Even better than the previous song. One of the very few songs where Kate is really mad at someone in particular and lets it show. Yes, indeed, a very unusual and powerful song for Kate. She's beautiful when she's angry! The story is fairly clear. Someone is screwing up Kate's love life by taking sides and offering unwanted advice. This song is Kate telling that person off. "Let the pendulum swing between a man and a woman."
Never Be Mine -- Incredible. Even better than the previous song. More haunting stuff with Trio Bulgarka -- another very sad song. Before I read the official lyrics to this song, I thought that Kate was having a vision of herself in an alternate world, living a different life, and wishing it was really hers. After seeing the official lyrics, it seems more like Kate has had a romantic affair with someone who leads a much different life than hers. The idea is still very similar. As she thinks of him, she longs for life she could have led with him -- a different life. But she knows that this life is not the one for which she is fated and she knows that she can't run off with this man.
Rocket's Tail -- Quite bizarre and delicious! The wildest combination of rock and Bulgarian folk music possible. It starts off a capella with Trio Bulgarka doing a traditional sounding Bulgarian piece, but Kate impossibly is adding a fourth, more Western melody line. Just amazing. Then David Gilmour and the band come in and it turns into a completely out-in-space Bulgarian Pink Floyd on X song!
I got most of the idea of this without the official lyrics. Kate meets someone who wants to be a rocket, but she thinks the dude is crazy. Eventually she sees the light and enjoys being a rocket too. One part of the song confuses me though:
I put on my pointed hat
And my black and silver suit,
And I check my gunpowder pack
And I strap the stick on my back.
And, dressed as a rocket on Waterloo Bridge--
Nobody seems to see me.
Then, with the fuse in my hand,
And now shooting into the night
And still as a rocket,
I land in the river.
Who is saying this? Is this Kate or the guy Kate thought was crazy. Plotwise, it seems to make most sense if this is the crazy dude. Because then in the next section, Kate joins in on the fun and says "Was it me said you were crazy?" But why is it in the first person as if Kate is saying these words? I think it is this way because it sounds more dramatic that way. I'm also confused about the line "And still as a rocket, I land in the river". This doesn't sound too healthy. Did the dude buy the big one trying to have too much fun?
Alternatively, the section spoken section could be Kate speaking. She survives the plunge into the river and liked the experience so much that she goes gonzo in the next section.
This Woman's Work -- The song we already know and love from *She's Having a Baby*. Sung by anyone else, this song would be sappy and sentimental. Done by Kate is in great. How she does it, I do not know. If you've seen the movie then you know what the song is about. The song is rather strange in the sense that Kate is singing from a man's point of view again. The words are his thoughts of what a schmuck he has been to his wife as he waits outside the operating room where something is going wrong with the delivery of their baby. He is worried that she might die and wishes he could tell her all all the things he never said to her and wishes they could do all the things they never did together.
Notice the nice pun, "I know you've got a little life in you yet". Most obviously, this is the man hoping that his wife will live. But the "little life in you" also refers to the baby that lives within his wife.
Walk Straight Down the Middle -- Another great song by Kate. Not incredibly bizarre or anything, but this one really strikes home. Slightly Gabrielesque. Why this is a B-side/bonus track I cannot fathom. It is orders of magnitude better than "Reaching Out" or "Love and Anger". It seems to be about some of the problems with relationships (surprise, surprise). When you are involved with someone, there is often a lot of fear that you are coming on too strong and scaring the other person away. Or that you are playing it too cool and that the other person is losing interest in you. A lot of the time it feels like both of these at the same time. You want to find the right middle ground, but you don't know where it is. The mind games that you play on each other, causes both of you to become stressed out and think that things aren't working. Soon you've confused each other so much that you don't know what you want anymore.
"He thought he was gonna die,
But he didn't."
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 89 21:04:37 -0500
From: Michael Mendelson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: So happy to be alive...
As I sit in my office on the first bitter day of autumn, The Sensual World begins again for what is about the sixth or seventh time since this afternoon when it left the store and became a part of me. I couldn't imagine this album being released in any other season on any other day... this was just perfect.
The Sensual World is the softest, silkiest, smoothest and most intensely personal of Kate's work yet. At the same time, Kate seems to have mellowed a bit -- there's no Big Sky; no Babooshka; no Wow; not even a Pulling Out the Pin. Instead, the music seems easier to appreciate more quickly... that impenetrable wall erected in The Dreaming and fortified by such Ninth Wave songs as Waking the Witch and Jig of Life has all but crumbled and been replaced by a new peace -- a pre-song GIGGLE! Kate is "all grown up now" and it shows. There are no backwards vocals, no indecipherable sounds, and on the surface this album seems alot simpler than previous ones. Deceptively so. Broken lyrics are replaced by rich string arrangements, and strange, melifluous instruments.
For me, and for Kate, this album represents a couple of firsts:
1) For the first time, I feel I have "caught up" to Kate. This is the first album I have been conscious of on the very day of its release. So happy to be alive.
2) Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is the first time any non-Kate females have sung *at all* on any Kate track. How perfectly appropriate that it be 3 sixty-some year old Bulgarian women. If any females could have persevered enough to attain a Kately enough level to be allowed to sing on her album, I guess they could.
I, too, disagree with the choice of Love and Anger as an American single. I suspect The Sensual World would have done fine, but in my opinion, Deeper Understanding would make a wonderful single. Everything about this song is fantastic. As with the album as a whole, this effort is trance-inducing, hypnotic. There lies through the chord of the album an irresistable subconscious appeal.
The only (minor) complaint I have is with Heads We're Dancing, which, despite having the best title of any song on the album, would be better off not referring to Hitler. Kate says in NME that she'll be angry if anyone is offended by this song, but this unfortunately reflects Kate's lack of full understanding of the profundity of the Holocaust and said genocidists crucial role therein. Hitler's crimes against society are so heinous, that even a cautious reference tends to trivialize these acts. I, and many to whom I am close, feel strongly that allusion to Hitler in any light (e.g. his human side, attractiveness in the midst of "devil," etc.), however fleeting and cautious, must simply be avoided no matter the temptation.
Aside from this small blemish, Kate has once again out-done herself. That she can be so consistently excellent time after time is indeed beyond mortal limit. Whatever her secret, I hope she can continue and live long. The Sensual World was most worth the wait, and any future Kate effort will be again, even if it's five years the next time.
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 89 08:32:37 EST
Subject: A review of the World
Hi there fellow Love-Hounds--
Like the rest of you who weren't fortunate enough to get your hands on a promo copy of The Sensual World, I hit the local Record Town yesterday and snagged it. The girl behind the counter commented that she had just finished putting all the CD's out a few hours before...and I think I took the last copy from the bin.
Anyway! Just thought I'd throw in my two cents' worth about Kate's latest.
The first time through the album, there were things that instantly caught my attention:
Love and Anger
The absolutely GLORIOUS laugh between Love and Anger and The Fog
The POWER of the vocals in Reaching Out
The funky little rhythms at the beginning of Heads We're Dancing
To perfectly honest, I just about cringed the first time I listened to Rocket's Tail. There was just something about it that I hated. But never fear, you Hounds out there. I used to hate Marillion's Misplaced Childhood and Gabriel #3 at one point too. For that matter, I used to have doubts about 3/4 of the stuff on The Dreaming. I'm sure that with a few more listens, it will start to grow on me. :)
So far (after 2 listens), my favorites are LAA, Reaching Out, Deeper Understanding. I loved This Woman's Work then and still love it now (I get goosebumps about the size of dimes). This album is pretty different from Hounds, but that certainly doesn't make it WORSE. I think Kate is defintely growing up, and her use of the Bulgarian Trio and a more 'ethnic' sound reflects that.
Ah, but the sound of that laugh still haunts me...I guess somewhere, the child in Kate still lurks.
Happy listening to all!!
All the best,
P.S. Someone commented earlier on the "lameness" of the front picture. I really disagree. The lack of color forces you to search elsewhere in the photo. You can't look away from those eyes, but if you do, you see and can almost imagine the velvety feel of those rose petals, can see the creamy slice of bare shoulder. It's a very seductive picture; what could better convey the idea of sensuality/sexuality?
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 89 15:29:22 +0200
From: Sakari Jalovaara <email@example.com>
Subject: KT symbol
I found it this morning. It isn't on the rose, but it is somewhere on the cover.
It is on the CD too but it is not as clear and much harder to find.
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 89 14:05:17 EST
From: Jon Drukman <jsd@GAFFA.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Negativity and Melody Maker
I'm very interested in this question of whether the songs on "The Sensual World" are resolved positively or negatively. On the one hand, we have IED saying that they are not optimistic. On the other hand, we have KT saying that they ARE optimistic. Who do we believe? Well, strangely, I agree with IED. And |>oug seems to agree with KT. Although, the ending of "Deeper Understanding" is less morbid than I would like. The way I see it is that our heroine has been deprived of her emotional crutch and she now can't function properly in the real world, so she sits in a room, dribbling on herself and mumbling "I hate to leave you."
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 89 21:26:09 PST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Edward Suranyi)
Subject: Review of the album in the Nov. 5 L.A. Times
There's a review of the album in tomorrow's (Nov. 4) Los Angeles Times. Actually, it's an expanded version of the short review that was in last week's Pop Music Special, which I posted.
A Grown-Up Kate Bush Veers Closer to Earth
"The Sensual World." Columbia
Goddess or gooney bird? Even some of this English progressive popstress' loyalties sometimes have to wonder. Though on 1985's "Hounds of Love" Bush stripped away many of the quirks of youthful exuberance that had marred her unique approach, some will always find her attention-getting vocals precious and her quasi-comic outlook and naked emotionalism off-putting. But this, her first album since "Hounds," is even more mature and accomplished. As Bush herself sings in "The Fog," "You see, I'm all grown up now."
The glorious Trio Bulgarka sings on three songs, further expanding Bush's already thoroughly developed world vision -- perhaps only Peter Gabriel melds so many cultural elements with such seemless flair. But it's the *how*, not the *what*, that distinguishes her accomplishments.
Listen to the mournful Balkan wail that punctuates "Deeper Understanding's" look at loneliness in the computer age. No Post-Modern irony or juxtaposition here; rather, the combination transforms the song into a wide-eyed-wonderful essay on the human condition, with all the sensuality promised in the album title. It's enough to make you go, well, gooney. - Steve Hochman
I think this full review sounds considerably more positive than the excerpt they published last week.
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 89 16:40:37 +0200
From: Sakari Jalovaara <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: KT logo (SPOILER!)
Why can I find the The Sensual World "KT" logo so easily? Is there a different US cover that doesn't have it?
Hit "n" now if you want to find it yourself. (Like if someone did hit "n". Ha!)
Locate the word "BUSH" on the cover. Measure about 3 cm (inch and change) downwards from the "H".
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 89 14:52:49 EST
Subject: Male vs. Female in The Sensual World
The first time I heard the album, I found parts of it almost too painful to listen to, at least lyrically, as I was in the throes of defining a relationship to a woman who I felt very strongly about, and it wasn't easy going. Many of the songs of TSW tend to emphasise a chasm between male and female, or rather male and female approaches to relationships. This theme is fairly explicit in ``Never Be Mine'' and ``Reaching Out.'' Kate found my bullseye for me.
TSW is a less twitchy and restless album, more resigned to certain mysteries of love; I think that, for a lot of men, we'd rather think that we know it all and that we can act on our emotions the way we ``should,'' in some rational manner when in fact sometimes we can't draw those conclusions, we can't make certain emotional situations conform to a models appropriate for the observed world. Maybe that's the flip side of the dichotomy of which the sensual world is one half. Anyway, perhaps male listeners aren't so keen on accepting how intractable (from a rational/analytic view) the whole love mess can be. They know it, but they don't want to be told about it, even by a talented goddess figure.
In contrast, ``Rocket's Tail'' and ``Deeper Understanding'' are more like the old Kate, although the male adolescent (and I'm not using those words in a perjorative way, mind you) and female tendencies are more integrated than on The Dreaming. None of Kate's work is so thin that important components of her being aren't going to show through.
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 89 13:28 PST
Subject: "error" in Kate's mature work?
Now, as for the complaint that IED is not being a "true Kate scholar" because he does not accept the possibility of "error" in Kate's mature work--you raise two very interesting questions, namely: what exactly constitutes "true" Kate Bushological scholarship? and what, exactly, is the definition of the phrase "error in Kate Bush's work"?
In IED's opinion, Kate Bush's art--or, to be more accurate, all of the art which Kate has made herself, entirely under her own control (this qualification would exempt, for example, the first three official albums in some respects from IED's standard, but would not, by the same definition, exempt the 22 early demos, the last three studio albums or most of the recent videos)--is what he considers "perfect". That is IED's thesis, and has been the foundation of all his Kate Bushological arguments since December of 1977. By that IED means that all aspects of Kate's own artistic expression contain seeds of what IED considers supernatural perfection.
Now, some people have been complaining that Kate Bush's new album is "a disappointment" to them--that it doesn't compare favorably to her previous albums, in particular The Dreaming and Hounds of Love --that it is "flawed". IED is not one of those people.
To him, The Sensual World is without "flaws". It is, like The Dreaming and like Hounds of Love, what he considers to be a "perfect" work of art. Let him qualify that statement immediately: by "perfect", he does not mean that it is impossible to point to a sign of technical liability, or of unexpected style, or of "inelegant" melodic or harmonic lyricism, or of self-conscious expression, or of lyrical awkwardness. On the contrary, it is rather easy to do this--and the alacrity with which some listeners point to one or another such apparent blemish does not surprise IED. It is the Mysterious nature of Kate Bush's art to provoke strong reactions in listeners, and as a result there are bound to be a great many people whose reactions will be hostile. These people are often moved to criticize the work which has so provoked them, and their cynicism leads them to view many of the problematic aspects of Kate's work as "faults".
It is IED's view that Kate's art succeeds most resoundingly when it is at "fault". For it is at its moments of "weakness" that its critics' emotions are reached. And there is nothing that upsets and confuses Kate's critics more than the consciousness--however dim--that her art has bypassed their intellects and penetrated their emotions. In other words, Kate's work is never more "perfect" in its power to evoke an emotional response than in its moments of most dramatic imperfection. In this respect more than in any other, The Sensual World is gloriously "imperfect".
Let's take Reaching Out as an example. Some of Kate's most cynical and "knowledgeable" critics have singled this recording out as one of Kate's weakest, as one of her most fundamentally "flawed". It is easy for anyone familiar with popular music to understand why these people criticize Reaching Out in this way: the song follows, with what is, for a mature Kate Bush song, unusual directness, a melodic pattern which the critics' "trained" minds associate with a large, vaguely recognized and stylistically suspect genre of popular song. Epithets like "Barbra Streisand" and "MOR" are bandied about by these high-minded judges, who search through the recording in vain for the "stylistically correct" (to coin a phrase) trademarks that will qualify it for inclusion among the earlier recordings already generally accepted as suitably antithetical to the genre associated with "Barbra Streisand" and "MOR".
What these critics fail to realize is that their search itself is a crucial error. They will probably never understand this simple fact, and fortunately, it is of no importance whether they do or not. But let there be no doubt that they are in error. For Reaching Out is typical of Kate Bush's work in that it shows her connection with the timeless Mystery of Art and Nature.
Now, IED could argue--and very effectively, too, in his opinion--for days on end with people in this group over the intrinsic but tangible strengths of Reaching Out which demonstrate it to be a great work of art. For example, he could point out that, in this song, Kate, as she very nearly always does, borrows from and synthesizes several disparate classical and traditional genres to create something entirely new and at the same time peculiarly "familiar" (because already mastered to a technical degree normally attained--emptily--only by derivative imitators of others' innovative new styles).
IED would stress the term "classical", above all, in the case of Reaching Out (were he disposed to argue with these critics) because the chord progression and the ascending choral refrain--which the song's gainsayers, limited by their myopic tastes and standards, and crippled by what is apparently a sore paucity of knowledge of the history of western music out of which our popular genres have evolved, pigeonhole as "MOR"--are in fact far more closely linked with nineteenth-century European art song (especially that subgenre represented by Brahms's settings of German folksongs and Wolf's Italian Songbook) which re-set the national styles of the itinerant musical tradition in the language of late Romantic classical form and melodic, thematic and lyrical patterns. IED would also point to Reaching Out's systematic redefinition of those forms and patterns in the terms of Kate's own deeply personal sonic vocabulary.
IED could also (if he wanted to argue on this mundane, sub-Mystery level) point out to the song's critics how, in Reaching Out, Kate takes two virtually unrelated but equally familiar forms of song--the ballad and the anthem (the former represented by the verses in bars 9-16 and 41-48, the latter by the choruses in bars 25-40 and 57-72)--and merges them; and how, furthermore, she does so in a successful, seemingly natural way despite the breadth of the expressive chasm which normally separates these two forms--a gap which is broadened still further by Kate's highly personal exploitation of the balladlike verses. He could point out that Kate achieves this by inserting between these sections a brand of transitional passage or "bridge" which is, as Del Palmer puts it with justified pride and directness, a Bush "invention" which he and she call the "PCR", or "pre-choral refrain" (in Reaching Out this section, very subtly altered in its second appearance, can be heard in bars 17-24 and 49-56).
This eight-bar section is deceptively simple, for it must--and does--accomplish multiple tasks. The popular-song genre's "bridge", which in recent years has degenerated into little more than a purposeless formal dinosaur, serves, when professionally contrived, to relieve the ear and to regulate the song's harmonic passage from verse to chorus and/or from chorus back to verse. Kate's "PCR" does these two things, of course, and also determines the "pace" of the song's musical and harmonic progress. But--quite unlike the common popular song's "bridge", Kate's PCR, never more economically presented than in Reaching Out, determines not only the technical transition from verse to chorus--not only the "shift of gears", so to speak, from the descending melodic phrases which characterize the verse to the huge ascending phrases which are the stamp of the choruses.
In a song which so uncompromisingly seeks to link passages as disparate as the verses' introvert, balladlike confidences with the choruses' desperate but celebratory and abandoned declarations, Reaching Out 's PCR also acts as a kind of expressive switching-station. Kate's masterful handling of this delicate compositional job works so well that her critics fail to recognize its significance entirely, and they, in their unthinking quest for overt deviation from either the ballad or the anthem, completely ignore one truly important achievement which Reaching Out --like all of Kate's work--embodies: namely, a profound, but by its very nature covert, integration of formerly disparate genres.
IED could, therefore, argue quite well (if he wished to, or felt the need) that the critics of Kate's "commercial" or "conventional" works, have overlooked a basic quality of all her art: its constructive rather than iconoclastic originality. This form of original, unexpected amalgamation, realized by Kate with such supreme mastery and variety, is unfortunately just the kind of innovation which Kate's inevitably self-absorbed, style-conscious critics are incapable of perceiving or appreciating.
But, for all the incidental pleasure or intellectual stimulation this sort of earthbound argument about Kate's tangible superiority may give IED, he cannot help but feel that it is essentially a waste of time. And have no doubt: IED does not delude himself into thinking that the rest of you (with one or two exceptions, perhaps) share his larger and (to him) infinitely more rewarding and enlightening convictions about Kate's art. Nevertheless, it is his conviction that Kate's muse is a Vessel of the Mystery. And such being the case, IED has no choice but to behave in accordance with the implications which that conviction carries.
Now, within the limits set by IED's thesis, he gets much pleasure from argument and discussion. He welcomes any idea about Kate's work which might increase his understanding of the Mystery. For example, IED began this posting by thanking Sakari with complete sincerity for the description of the new TWW video, because in that posting IED found something which he considers to be a quite important new insight into the Mystery: namely, the fact that, for the third video in a row, Kate has inserted the symbolic image of the shower of gold.
This is a clue which, in IED's opinion, should--if the world were a perfect place--have convinced everyone who reads Love-Hounds that IED's thesis is correct : that, indeed, Kate Bush's work contains a thread of the eternal, of the supernatural perfection which, for want of a better word in this benighted age, people generally call God.
Another clarification: IED doesn't mean to say that we should all "idolize" Kate Bush herself because of this Godly quality in her work. Not at all. IED confesses that it is sometimes difficult for him to distinguish between the Vessel and the Wine, between the Instrument and the Voice. But in most circumstances he--like most of you--sees with relative clarity that Kate Bush is just a very talented, even brilliant, but essentially earthbound human being.
This does not in any way diminish IED's conviction--nay, his Knowledge--that Kate Bush's work-- all of her work--is infused with the Thread of the Mystery.
So, accuse IED of being less than a "true scholar" of Kate's work if you will, Larry; in more than one sense of the phrase you are no doubt correct. But in the one sense which really matters, IED takes comfort in the knowledge that he, at least, is on the right TracK.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: 07 Dec 89 08:31:11
Subject: reaching out; perfection
I wish to congratulate IED on his excellent analysis of the song Reaching Out. He has obviously put a significant amount of thought into understanding the song, and, through it, Kate's intentions. And all of this insight into just one song!
One quibble: since he concentrated primarily on the structure of the song and the mood it creates, he had few words for the orchestration, which is also, to coin a phrase, perfect. Of course, Kate did not have complete control over the orchestration, except insofar as she elected to work with Michael Nyman, who did the string arrangements.
Also, although IED has gone to some trouble to explain what he means when he says "Kate's work is perfect" we are still a little vague about the definition of the word "perfect"; in other words what does it mean to say "Kate's work is perfect "? Allow me to explain what I mean by the word, and IED can second my definition or forward an alternate.
A work is said to be perfect if no small alteration will improve it. In a strict mathematical setting, this is the notion of a local maximum in calculus. There may exist other maximal points, but they must necessarily be far removed from the one under consideration.
Perfection is of course only defined modulo a listener.
This definition is clear, has a sound theoretical base, and is workable. It arose in a discussion over Thanksgiving weekend of Stanley Kubrick's film "A Clockwork Orange", which has been described as "one of the few perfect films ever made", which we took to mean that no scene could be added, deleted, or reworked in such a way as to improve the film. (In this case, I don't even think meddling with the soundtrack would do any good. It really is locally optimized.)
What makes the definition workable is that we can further define a work to be perfect to the tolerance of our own perceptions if we cannot conceive a way to improve it. I am implicitly doing this in my judgement of "A Clockwork Orange".
So, if anyone wants to deny that one of Kate's songs is perfect under my definition, and to submit proof, they will have to explain just how it can be improved. In the case of Reaching Out, for example, you could suggest eliminating the "pre-choral refrain", subduing the strings somewhat, or changing a few words. You cannot suggest taking the record and flinging it against a brick wall; this is not a small change. (Conceivably, you could argue that deleting a single song is a small change to the album and might improve it.)
There are precious few songs which everyone will agree are perfect. There are plenty of songs which anyone can be convinced are not. Pick a song by Bon Jovi. You can even convince people who like the song that it can be made better.
I think that Kate may have produced some imperfect songs in the past seven years. I just can't think what they might be. I certainly defy anyone to suggest improvements in, say, "Night of the Swallow", "Get Out of my House", or "The Ninth Wave".
You can set your own standards of success in how well you have established the imperfection of a given song. If your goal is to convince IED, you are probably setting the bar a little high. You might pick some other subset of love-hounds and try convincing them.
(By the way, you can suggest restoring the original words to The Sensual World, but remember that the far-from-perfect decision to remove them was not made by Kate!)
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 90 20:00:49 CST
From: Jorn Barger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Sensual cover/ Mishima connection
Some weeks ago someone here noted a similarity between the KT-with-rose pose and a photo of Yukio Mishima (?) on the cover of a biography of same...
I happened to run into the very book in a 2nd hand store yesterday and my opinion is that the pose, and especially the psychotic gaze, are too strikingly similar to be an accident.
Unless I'm confusing another Japanese celebrity, Mishima was a gay novelist and extreme reactionary who almost singlehandedly hijacked a military compound and then committed hara kiri practically or actually on live tv, I think in the 60's. Just the kind of drama that might fascinate KT.
So is there a song on TSW that echoes something of his life or works?
"Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd." Blake
Date: Sat, 02 Jun 90 15:31 PDT
Subject: Mailbags, and bags, and bags...
>...<Kate> should wake up and get some production values into her mixes. I'm beginning to agree with the guy who wrote that TSW turns your stereo into a glazed donut.
More properly, Drukman should wake up and listen a bit more carefully. Kate's mixes are absolutely impeccable. The flaw, if there is any, is either in: a.) your taste in sound; b.) your hardware; c.) your inferior US pressing; or d.) your inability to appreciate the kind of sound Kate intentionally created with Kevin Killen for TSW.
The idea that only certain kinds of sound-mix characters are "good" and all others "bad" is absurd. TSW has a different mix quality than her previous albums; not worse, just different. IED knows that on his CD player (the Sony CDP507ESD) TSW 's mix is stunning from beginning to end--analogue or not.
The Dreaming, btw, was, at least partly, a digital recording/mix.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 1991 00:19:00 -0700
From: email@example.com (Chris n Vickie)
Subject: Open mouth, insert foot...
Vickie here, sorry about the terror fit :-)
About TSW, I will say the sound is "busier" than HoL or TD and I do hear a bit of hiss on RT, but I just don't hear the "terrible sound quality" so many people are complaining about.
Our equipment is excellent. Carver speakers, amplifier, preamp, the works. Anyone who has ever been to our house can back me up when I say that our equipment makes everything we own sound wonderful. I used to live with a real audiophile, one who tinkered and toyed, fussed and fidgeted for hours until everything was perfect to his ears. I mention this to establish that I come from a background that's more discerning than My First Sony :-)
We only listen to the English CD, or the Canadian Picture Disc. The sound is beautiful to these ears, so I just have to voice my disagreement with all the people complaining about TSW's sound.
Oh Kate, hurry up, please! Waiting is so hard....
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stuart Castergine)
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 92 02:02:16 -0500
Subject: The Sensual World
I finally got The Sensual World! I like the album (of course), but I do understand now what people have said about the quality of the engineering/mix. Having listened to it about a dozen times now, I think I'm ready to say, "It wasn't Del's fault." You see, I think the actual recording of the tracks was fine. The problem, to my ears is the mixing balance of the background tracks -- they sometimes overwhelm Kate's voice and are generally too obtrusive. Checking the credits, I notice that it wasn't Del who did the mixing on most of the album, it was Kevin Killen. Del only mixed one song, Walk Straight Down the Middle.
It is too soon for me to choose favorites other than the title track. The album doesn't grab me quite as immediately as some of hers have. Then again, it took me a long while to decide The Dreaming was the most fantastic album I'd ever heard. I do have this intuition, not based on any analysis, that one of the things that bothers me is that the album is in some strange way less mystical, less spiritual than her other work. Anybody know what I'm talking about better than I do?
And, I must admit, my enjoyment of the album has been lessened by talk that it shows some deterioration of her voice. I keep listening to tracks over and over thinking "Is she straining there?" "Is that tremolo intentional or due to a lack of control?" "Is the breathy delivery a coverup for raspiness?" I will feel greatly relieved if her next album (WHEN WILL IT BE?!) calms some of my fears and shows her voice to be intact and still the most amazing thing since God created sound. I'm hoping that this album simply wasn't a very good showcase for her voice, that she was using a certain style here that I'm just not meshing with yet, just as it took some people a while to get used to what she was doing on The Dreaming compared with the high, ethereal vocals of her early albums.
I think the next album can't help but be helped by just "turning down the volume on all that electronic background crap and letting me hear KATE!" -- Stuart M. Castergine
From: jondr@sco.COM (Karen Silkwood's car)
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1992 18:42:36 GMT
Subject: Re: The Sensual World
Stuart Castergine writes:
I finally got The Sensual World ! I like the album (of course), but I do understand now what people have said about the quality of the engineering/mix. Having listened to it about a dozen times now, I think I'm ready to say, "It wasn't Del's fault." You see, I think the actual recording of the tracks was fine. The problem, to my ears is the mixing balance of the background tracks -- they sometimes overwhelm Kate's voice and are generally too obtrusive.
it is typical of the novice to express an opinion on something that he or she knows little about. as a certified recording engineer and beautiful person (our record was noted as having "exceptionally clean sound on this cutting edge release" in US Rave) I am obviously in a position of authority to comment. take it from me, folks. I know the difference between bad engineering, bad recording and bad mixing. the sensual world is badly engineered and recorded. you can tell quite easily by listening to the differences in hiss/distortion levels between the things del recorded at chez kate and stuff like the orchestras recorded at abbey road.
kate's gotta pull her head out of her butt and take an interest in sound quality. for an artist of her caliber to put out a CD like the british edition of The Sensual World is really insulting. (I single out the British version cos it's slightly clearer than the american one, and you can hear the shit even better. this is what I paid an extra $5 for? puhleeze!)
Checking the credits, I notice that it wasn't Del who did the mixing on most of the album, it was Kevin Killen. Del only mixed one song, Walk Straight Down the Middle .
nothing wrong with kevin killen. check out peter gabriel's "so". you can't make gold out of turds. you can gold plate the turd but deep down it retains its essential turdiness.
I think the next album can't help but be helped by just "turning down the volume on all that electronic background crap and letting me hear KATE!"
she should spend some of her fortune on a better reverb.
or better yet, come live at my house and let me produce her album in our studio.
Jon Drukman (God's personal DJ)
On to The Songs
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996