Time Out London - album
NME - "Kate Bush breaks her silence"
The Scotsman - "Mixed reception for Bush's long awaited return"
The Guardian - album review
The Independent - album review
The Daily Mail - "Is this great Kate - or just Pi in the sky?"
The Daily Mirror - "Kate Bush - Reaching new heights"
The Daily Telegraph - "Pop CD of the Week"
The Sunday Times - "Pop CD of the Week: Kate Bush: Aerial "
The Sunday Telegraph - album review
The Scotsman on Sunday - album review
The Evening Standard - "Sky's the limit for Kate"
Heat - album review
To the Reaching Out (Reviews) Table of Contents
Time Out London
by John Lewis
November 2, 2005
(3 stars out of 6)
While interviewing the slightly unhinged dub producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry once, I asked him which artists he admired.
"Music must have a pure heart," he said. "It must have madness, it must have genius. That is why I love Kate Bush."
It seemed improbable that this five-foot tall Jamacian with an electric toaster strapped to his head should be obsessed with the Bexleyheath ballerina and her shamanic invocations's of Olde Albion. But it all makes sense when you listen to "Aerial". When you hear her singing, "Washing machine/Washing machine/slooshy-slooshy-slooshy-slooshy"; or reciting pi to 115 decimal places; or wailing Ivor cutler-ish doggerel like 'Little brown jug/Don't I love thee/Hohoho/Hee hee hee" - you can see how Perry might see The bonkers Ms Bush as a kindred spirit.
"Aerial", her first album in 12 years, is a curious rag-bag. It would probably fit onto a single CD but Bush is of a generation that is welded to the two-sided vinyl LP, so side one ("A Seat Of Honey") features increasingly eccentric stand-alone songs,while side two ("A Sky Of Honey") serves as a unified new age-y concept album about sunrise and sunset, punctuated with birdsong, babytalk and even a cameo from Rolf Harris. The ambitious mix of dub, African, trance, Vaughan Williams-ish orchestrations, Eberhard Weber's FX-laden double bass and even authentic baroque instrumentation occasionally works, like on the sublime "Somewhere In Between", a sleek piece of ambient drum'n'bass with a Arabic tinged chorus, or on "Sunset", a bossa-tinged ballad that mutates into a raucous flamenco stomper. But there are a few stinkers- the Dire Straits-ish "How To Be Invisible", the ethno drum wank "Jonnni", and "Nocturn', which sounds like a trance anthem played by elderly session musos.
Naturally, the two most effective songs - "Mrs Bartolozzi" and "A Coral Room" are the most spartan, with Bush singing spooky, elliptical Jyrics over her own piano accompaniment. It's here that Kate Bush's fabled blend of madness and genius is at it's most sublime.
Kate Bush breaks her silence
November 3, 2005
She says that her first album in over a decade nearly killed her
Kate Bush will speak in her first broadcast interview for more
than 12 years this Friday (November 4).
The singer, who has been absent from the music scene in recent years, will break her silence in a special interview on BBC Radio 4's Front Row at 7.15pm.
She talks openly about avoiding the media, her frustration at completing her first album - Aerial - in more than 10 years and motherhood.
Bush tells John Wilson: "I'm very opinionated. I'm horrible to work with; I'm so fussy and picky. What's good is that I know what I want. It's when you don't know what you want that you're in trouble.
"There were so many times I thought I wasn't going to have the energy to see it (the album) through. I knew I couldn't go on any longer or it would have killed me. I was so fed up making it."
The reclusive artist reveals that she was only able to make a new album, her first since 'The Red Shoes' in 1993, because she has a studio at home and it was still a struggle to juggle the demands of music and motherhood.
She added: "I wanted to give as much time as I could to my son. I love being with him, he's a lovely little boy and he won't be little for very long. I felt my work could wait whereas his growing up couldn't."
On being a recluse she went on: "I am a private person, but I don't think I'm obsessively so. It's more that I choose to try and have a normal a life as possible. I don't like to live in a glare of publicity.
"My creative process was very time consuming and comes from a very quiet place... people seem to find that weird and strange, but its common sense really."
Mixed reception for Bush's long
by Fiona Shepherd
November 4, 2005
(3 stars out of 4)
YOU wait 12 years for a Kate Bush album and two arrive in the
same pretty package. Aerial is Bush's oh-so-long-awaited two-CD follow-up to The
Red Shoes, an album which is now more distant a memory than a Tory government,
and it cannot help but be blighted by the weight of expectation.
For Bush is, with no exaggeration, the most singular songwriter ever to emerge from the UK, a songwriter and performer who has always been utterly immersed in her own unique world - the corporeal, hyper-real and sometimes just plain surreal - and has explored it with no regard for fashion, relevance or commerce.
However, it has now been 20 years since her last masterpiece, The Hounds of Love, and there have been moments when the continuing silence from the Bush camp didn't seem like such a bad thing after all. Better surely to retire with barely a blemish on your record and preserve the myth than to bow to fan pressure and release more music when you have nothing left to say.
It would be easy, and more conducive to the mystique, to mistake her intensely guarded privacy for an obsessively cloistered existence. In an age of vulgar celebrity and seemingly intrusive access, one forgets that it is actually not difficult to remove yourself from the media circus by choice. Bush has spent the last decade or so not locked up in some rural ivory tower but enjoying a quiet life in the country with her young son Bertie. She hasn't done any interviews because she hasn't wanted to do any interviews. Simple, eh?
Her approach to recording has become domesticated over the years too. Bush could have called on almost anyone to grace her album, but she is not some self-aggrandising rapper playing the "my guest list is bigger than your guest list" game. Instead, it was her priority to be surrounded and somewhat cushioned by long-term band mates with whom she is most comfortable. Beyond that, the special guest contributions are confined to backing vocals by Lol Creme and good old Rolf Harris on didgeridoo, plus string arrangements by the late Michael Kamen.
The results are comfy, mellow and instantly recognisable as the work of Bush. Structurally, Aerial resembles The Hounds of Love, with one CD (called A Sea of Honey) of seven individual songs and another (A Sky of Honey) an impressionistic nine-track song cycle which follows the changing of the light and the sound of birdsong from one afternoon through to the dawn of the next day.
Musically, however, Aerial most closely resembles The Sensual World. It is an album of atmospheres and immaculate soundscapes rather than arresting songs. The choice of the prosaic King of the Mountain as a comeback single now seems obvious, given that it has the closest thing to a hookline as Aerial has to offer.
But it is not entirely a pipe-and-slippers affair. In terms of subject matter, Bush is almost as capricious and eccentric as ever, jumping from speculation about Elvis on King of the Mountain to Joanni, a pretty ordinary tribute to Joan of Arc ("she looks so beautiful in her armour"), and Pi with its chorus reciting the magic number to its first hundred or so digits. Sing along if you know the calculation.
Often Bush lights up what could be fairly banal subject matter - climbing a hill, doing the washing - with a lyrical eye. Despite its seemingly inane chorus of "washing machine/washing machine/washing machine", Mrs Bartolozzi turns out to be a rather touching, elegiac piano ballad about wistful daydreams.
Only one song - Bertie - is explicitly about her son. The simple nursery rhyme quality of the chorus suggests it may have started life as something she sang to him but, being Kate Bush, she gives the finished article an Elizabethan arrangement to set it apart. Inevitably, motherhood has changed her priorities irrevocably. The best hours of her day are spent with her son and not on her music (which is one explanation for keeping us waiting). But from that shift of focus comes the inspiration for the second CD.
A Sky of Honey is a leisurely journey through a non-working day in the country sampling the sights (including Rolf Harris painting, apparently) and sounds with another. Although the identity of her companion is rarely alluded to, it seems obvious that it is her son with whom Bush is sharing these experiences, sometimes explaining the shift of light poetically ("could be honeycomb in a sea of honey"), often just revelling in the moment ("somewhere in between breathing out and breathing in").
Towards the end of the cycle, the arrangements of the tracks become more expansive and ambitious. Nocturne and Aerial layer on the exquisite vocals and up the urgency levels quite unexpectedly for tracks which ostensibly explore the tranquility of the night and sunrise. In some ways, this is the more satisfying half of the album, thematically strong, sonically atmospheric and to be enjoyed as an ambient whole, unlike the individually rather disappointing songs on the first CD.
by Alexis Petridis
November 4, 2005
(5 stars out of 5)
These days, record companies try to make every new album seem
like a matter of unparalleled cultural import. The most inconsequential artists
require confidentiality agreements to be faxed to journalists, the lowliest
release must be delivered by hand. So it's hard not to be impressed by an album
that carries a genuine sense of occasion. That's not to say EMI - which earlier
this year transformed the ostensibly simple process of handing critics the
Coldplay album into something resembling a particularly Byzantine episode of
Spooks - haven't really pushed the boat out for Kate Bush's return after a
12-year absence. They employed a security man specifically for the purpose of
staring at you while you listened to her new album. But even without his
disconcerting presence, Aerial would seem like an event.
In the gap since 1993's so-so The Red Shoes, the Kate Bush myth that began fomenting when she first appeared on Top of the Pops, waving her arms and shrilly announcing that Cath-ee had come home-uh, grew to quite staggering proportions. She was variously reported to have gone bonkers, become a recluse and offered her record company some home-made biscuits instead of a new album. In reality, she seems to have been doing nothing more peculiar than bringing up a son, moving house and watching while people made up nutty stories about her.
Aerial contains a song called How to Be Invisible. It features a spell for a chorus, precisely what you would expect from the batty Kate Bush of popular myth. The spell, however, gently mocks her more obsessive fans while espousing a life of domestic contentment: "Hem of anorak, stem of wallflower, hair of doormat."
Domestic contentment runs through Aerial's 90-minute duration. Recent Bush albums have been filled with songs in which the extraordinary happened: people snogged Hitler, or were arrested for building machines that controlled the weather. Aerial, however, is packed with songs that make commonplace events sound extraordinary. It calls upon Renaissance musicians to serenade her son. Viols are bowed, arcane stringed instruments plucked, Bush sings beatifically of smiles and kisses and "luvv-er-ly Bertie". You can't help feeling that this song is going to cause a lot of door slamming and shouts of "oh-God-mum-you're-so-embarrassing" when Bertie reaches the less luvv-er-ly age of 15, but it's still delightful.
The second CD is devoted to a concept piece called A Sky of Honey in which virtually nothing happens, albeit very beautifully, with delicious string arrangements, hymnal piano chords, joyous choruses and bursts of flamenco guitar: the sun comes up, birds sing, Bush watches a pavement artist at work, it rains, Bush has a moonlight swim and watches the sun come up again. The pavement artist is played by Rolf Harris. This casting demonstrates Bush's admirable disregard for accepted notions of cool, but it's tough on anyone who grew up watching him daubing away on Rolf's Cartoon Club. "A little bit lighter there, maybe with some accents," he mutters. You keep expecting him to ask if you can guess what it is yet.
Domestic contentment even gets into the staple Bush topic of sex. Ever since her debut, The Kick Inside, with its lyrics about incest and "sticky love", Bush has given good filth: striking, often disturbing songs that, excitingly, suggest a wildly inventive approach to having it off. Here, on the lovely and moving piano ballad Mrs Bartolozzi, she turns watching a washing machine into a thing of quivering erotic wonder. "My blouse wrapping around your trousers," she sings. "Oh, and the waves are going out/ my skirt floating up around my waist." Laundry day in the Bush household must be an absolute hoot.
Aerial sounds like an album made in isolation. On the down side, that means some of it seems dated. You can't help feeling she might have thought twice about the lumpy funk of Joanni and the preponderance of fretless bass if she got out a bit more. But, on the plus side, it also means Aerial is literally incomparable. You catch a faint whiff of Pink Floyd and her old mentor Dave Gilmour on the title track, but otherwise it sounds like nothing other than Bush's own back catalogue. It is filled with things only Kate Bush would do. Some of them you rather wish she wouldn't, including imitating bird calls and doing funny voices: King of the Mountain features a passable impersonation of its subject, Elvis, which is at least less disastrous than the strewth-cobber Aussie accent she adopted on 1982's The Dreaming. But then, daring to walk the line between the sublime and the demented is the point of Kate Bush's entire oeuvre. On Aerial she achieves far, far more of the former than the latter. When she does, there is nothing you can do but willingly succumb.
by Andy Gill
November 4, 2005
(5 stars out of 5)
As might be expected of an album which breaks a 12-year silence
during which she began to raise a family, there's a core of contented
domesticity to Kate Bush's Aerial. It's not just a case of parental bliss -
although her affection for "lovely, lovely Bertie" spills over from the courtly
song specifically about him, to wash all over the second of this double-album's
discs, a song-cycle about creation, art, the natural world and the cycling
passage of time.
It's there too in the childhood reminiscence of "A Coral Room", the almost autistic satisfaction of the obsessive-compulsive mathematician fascinated by "Pi" (which affords the opportunity to hear Bush slowly sing vast chunks of the number in question, several dozen digits long - which rather puts singing the telephone directory into the shade), and particularly "Mrs Bartolozzi", a wife, or maybe widow, seeking solace for her absent mate in the dance of their clothes in the washing machine. "I watched them going round and round/ My blouse wrapping itself round your trousers," she observes, slipping into the infantile - "Slooshy sloshy, slooshy sloshy, get that dirty shirty clean" - and alighting periodically upon the zen stillness of the murmured chorus, "washing machine".
The second disc takes us through a relaxing day's stroll in the sunshine, from the sequenced birdsong of the "Prelude", through a pavement artist's attempt to "find the song of the oil and the brush" through serendipity and skill ("That bit there, it was an accident/ But he's so pleased/ It's the best mistake he could make/ And it's my favourite piece"), through the gentle flamenco chamber-jazz "Sunset" and the Laura Veirs-style epiphanic night-time swim in "Nocturn", to her dawn duet with the waking birds that concludes the album with mesmeric waves of synthesiser perked up by brisk banjo runs.
There's a hypnotic undertow running throughout the album, from the gentle reggae lilt of the single "King of the Mountain" and the organ pulses of "Pi" to the minimalist waves of piano and synth in "Prologue". Though oddly, for all its consistency of mood and tone, Aerial is possibly Bush's most musically diverse album, with individual tracks involving, alongside the usual rock-band line-up, such curiosities as bowed viol and spinet, jazz bass, castanets, rhythmic cooing pigeons, and her bizarre attempt to achieve communion with the natural world by aping the dawn chorus. Despite the muttered commentary of Rolf Harris as The Painter, it's a marvellous, complex work which restores Kate Bush to the artistic stature she last possessed around the time of Hounds of Love.
DOWNLOAD THIS: 'King of the Mountain', 'Pi', 'Mrs Bartolozzi', 'Prologue', 'Aerial'
Is this great Kate - or just Pi in
by Adrian Thrills
November 4, 2005
(3 stars out of 5)
The world's great soul voices, it is often said, could sing the phone book and make it sound sexy. Here, on her first album in 12 years, Kate Bush tries to do the same for the number Pi, examining it to it's 115th decimal place against a backdrop of swirling keyboards.
Only Bush could even contemplate something quite as potty.
Then again, the reclusive 47 yr old singer also uses this eagerly awaited comeback to unveil a bizarre song about her washing machine, collaborate with Rolf Harris and produce a series of tonal pieces consisting primarily of birdsong.
Kooky Kate, we can safely assume, answers only to her own artistic whims. And while Aerial, out on Monday, confirms her position as one of music's true mavericks, its more indulgent moments also suggest that the woman who gave us Wuthering Heights in 1978 is now a long way off the pulse of modern pop.
Aerial is Kate's eighth studio album and her first since 1993's The Red Shoes, the intervening period having been spent bringing up her seven year old son, Bertie, and living a life of rural seclusion.
Spread across two separate CDs - subtitled A Sea of Honey and A Sky of Honey - the record is a sprawling statement which veers between conventional, band based songs and meandering, semi classical pieces.
As is the custom with many flagship releases these days, Bush's record label, EMI, is refusing to send out any pre release copies of Aerial. Critics wishing to hear the record before Monday can only do so by visiting EMI's London HQ. While concerns over piracy are cited as the main reason for this, a desire to turn the release into an 'event' is undoubtedly a factor.
Whether this ill work for Kate remains to be seen. Her new single, The King of the Mountain, entered this week's charts below Westlife, Arctic Monkeys and Sugababes in a modest fourth spot, which hardly bodes well for the longevity of this particular comeback.
The song, however, does make more sense in the context of Aerial's first disc, opening A Sea of Honey in an impressive blaze of keyboards and bass.
With Kate's still striking voice and adroit piano augmented by partner Danny McIntosh's guitar, Gary Booker's organ and the orchestral flourishes of the late Michael Kamen, CD1 progresses along relatively straightforward lines. At least, the music is relatively straightforward on Bertie, a folky madrigal for her young son, and the robust How To Be Invisible.
Bush's words, on the other hand, often sound like the work of someone who needs to get out a bit more. As well as the aforementioned Pi, there's the ludicrous Mrs Bartolozzi, which draws parallels between the sexual fantasies of a bored housewife and her washing machine: 'Slooshy sloshy, sloohy sloshy/Get that dirty shirty clean.' Things perk up a little with Joanni, a homage to Joan of Arc, with a windswept melody that is Bush at her best, while A Coral Room, the first disc's closing track, is a poignant song that sets the tone for the beginning of CD2.
A Sky of Honey is more indulgent, yet occasionally more rewarding.
A suite of inter-connected pieces, it is supposedly built around the recurring motifs of light and birdsong, its nine tracks following the course of a day from late afternoon through to the following morning. The first four songs - Prelude, Prologue, An Architect's Dream and The Painter's Link - feature twittering birds juxtaposed with ambient effects and the sound of Rolf Harris observing the need to 'get that tone a little bit lighter'.
Mercifully, redemption arrives in the form of Sunset, which employs jazzy piano and double bass to build towards a strident Latin finale, and Somewhere In Between, a beautifully turned slice of percussive jazz-rock. With Aerial finally gathering momentum, the powerful Nocturn is a rock based tour de force. The highly charged atmosphere cintinues into the last number, the title track, before Bush restores the earlier calm with a final bout of birdsong and a loud cackle.
Fantastic in places, flawed in others, Aerial at least leaves us with the hope that Kate might still have the last laugh.
Kate Bush - Reaching new heights
The Daily Mirror
November 4, 2005
(4 stars out of 5)
Before she reaches halfway on her first album in 12 years, Kate Bush is already testing your patience to breaking point.
She sings a song called PiI, about a maths obsessive, and the chorus consists of the digits of Pi.
On Mrs Bartolozzi, she blends laundry and eroticism in a washing machine, with a chorus that goes “Sloshy slosh sloshy slosh/Get that dirty shirt clean”.
Most bizarrely, after years of protecting the privacy of her son, she rejoices in his presence and smile in Bertie, a song named after him. On paper, it really doesn’t look good (Bertie even adds backing vocals), and by any normal standards, NONE of it should work.
And yet by the time Rolf Harris – yes, that Rolf Harris – turns up to add didgeridoo to How To Be Invisible, the Bush magic has taken hold. She has you pinned to the floor in awed submission.
Her stunning blend of jazzy time signatures, folk instrumentation, spine-tingling piano and that voice – still strong and radiant, soaring and swooping unlike any other – melts the heart. The listener is transported to Planet Kate, a weird and wonderful place of joy, life and nature under the watchful eye of Kate’s reclusive genius.
Her magical, mystical powers take an even deeper hold with The Coral Room, a poignant meditation on death and parting. This in turn gives way to the second CD, a ravishing sunburst where the miracle of creation – whether in the form of a sunset, a new-born baby, a painting or a piece of music – is brought to life.
Starry beauty and life-affirming surges abound in tracks such as Sunset, with its striking mariachi band finale.
A giddy climax is reached in Nocturn. After recreating a sensual, sexually alive swim under the stars, Kate greets the new dawn in a breathtaking rhapsodic style.
Twelve years is a long time to be away, but Kate Bush’s absence has helped bring everything that makes her so special into sharper focus. On Aerial, her antennae are more finely tuned than ever.
Pop CD of the Week
The Daily Telegraph
by Neil McCormick
November 5, 2005
There are a pair of songs here that almost defy a cynical
listener not to snigger. Bertie is a joyous paean to Kate Bush's son, on which
she gets so carried away she sings "lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely" with
ecstatic rapture. This is followed by Mrs Bertolozzi (the name, I assume, also
relates to her son) in which she depicts herself lost in daydreaming reverie in
front of a washing machine.
So this is what she has been doing since The Red Shoes in 1993. John Lennon sang of watching the wheels go around, Bush has been watching the clothes spin. It is hard to imagine another major songwriter who would boldly sing: "Slooshy, sloshy, slooshy, sloshy, get that dirty shirty clean". Certainly Bush wants you to laugh, but not with derision. Smile and surrender and you will be spellbound.
Huge anticipation has been building for Bush's return and she does not disappoint. Her voice is as pure and flexible as ever (a hushed whisper capable of climbing to astonishing heights), her arrangements as vividly imaginative, her vision of the universe as madly eccentric, yet reassuringly compassionate.
Aerial is a double album comprising two very distinct CDs. A Sea of Honey is a short collection of seven songs evoking the mindset of self-imposed exile, encompassing the sinister guitar-pop of How to Be Invisible and the minimalist, dreamlike A Coral Room, in which she touchingly mourns the passing of her mother. This CD would have been enough to herald her comeback, but disc two, A Sky of Honey, puts her in another league. This hymn to creation gives full rein to her cinemascopic musicality, encompassing jazz, latin percussion, prog-rock acid house and Rolf Harris on didgeridoo. It may be bonkers, but Bush's return is constructed on a scale of passion and imagination that makes most of what passes for pop sound drab and one-dimensional in comparison.
Pop CD of the Week: Kate Bush:
The Sunday Times
by Dan Cairns
November 6, 2005
(5 stars out of 5)
Five stars for cussedness alone; oh, and originality, chutzpah, transcendence and mystery, too. On her first album in 12 years, Bush doesn’t just throw away the rule book, she writes a new one, which in an ideal world all musicians would cleave to, but from which most will probably run in terror. Who else would write a song called Pi, about a numerically obsessed male, on which Bush recites streams of numbers while violins shimmer? Or Bertie, a rapturous ode to her son that is like a lost Orlando Gibbons anthem, full of sawing viols and Elizabethan percussion? That’s just disc one, A Sea of Honey. On A Sky of Honey, Bush takes us through a single day, the song and murmur of blackbirds and wood pigeons linking the themed tracks (one, The Painter’s Link, featuring Rolf Harris) and propelling us towards the climax of Nocturn and the title track, ending with Bush asking: “What kind of language is this?” There’s no easy answer. But Aerial is extraordinary: baffling, uncategorisable, monumental, exhilarating.
by Ben Thompson
November 6, 2005
Ben Thompson reviews an album of two halves
Kate Bush's decision to put a drawing by her seven-year-old son
on the cover of her comeback single seemed an ominous portent. Did this mean the
erstwhile siren of Bexleyheath was now planning to express her creativity
primarily through motherhood? And if so, would her first new record since 1993's
balletically underwhelming The Red Shoes be pop's equivalent of the friend's
child's daub; fit only to be stuck to the fridge for a few minutes before being
knocked - accidentally-on-purpose - into the dustbin?
Happily, the first disc of this long-awaited double album is not only good enough to merit its extended gestation period but also to consolidate the improvement in Kate Bush's critical fortunes secured by her long years of silence. The sumptuous if ultimately vapid single "King of the Mountain" projects the idea of a recluse's return through the somewhat over-familiar iconographic filters of Elvis and Citizen Kane. But elsewhere in the course of Aerial's first seven songs, Bush addresses the non-myths of her own kookiness and wilful unavailability in an exhilaratingly playful manner.
"Pi" - the definitive catchy little number - finds Kate singing the value of Pi to the 116th decimal place. "How to be Invisible" shares her recipe for a quiet life: "Eye of braille, hem of anorak, stem of wallflower, hair of doormat". "Joanni" makes effective common cause with Joan of Arc (who, Bush avers approvingly, "looks so beautiful in her armour"). "Mrs Bartolozzi"'s potentially nauseating hymn to the joys of domestic enslavement - "Slooshy-sloshy, Slooshy-sloshy/ Get that dirty shirty clean" - is rendered perversely transcendent by its exquisite piano accompaniment. And the profoundly moving "A Coral Room" all but redeems the cloying maternal madrigal "Bertie". In fact, the former poetic meditation on love and loss is one of the most beautiful songs Bush has ever recorded.
Historically, Kate Bush has preferred not to do anything brilliant without doing something completely ridiculous as well. And Aerial's second act fulfils this brief for unfettered eccentricity with a 40-minute song cycle about a painting trip to Italy in the company of Rolf Harris. No really, it does. And neither Kate's rousing call to arms - "Oh will you come with us/ To find the story of the oil and the brush" - nor Rolf's horrendous guest vocal, nor the sinister flock of talking stock-doves in the "Prelude", would be remotely problematic if this record's second half weren't as bizarrely bereft of musical ideas as its first is creatively fecund. Fifty per cent perfect, then, and fifty per cent abysmal, Aerial is not so much a curate's egg as a cardinal's omelette.
The Scotsman on Sunday
by Colin Somerville
November 6, 2005
What a return! How many double albums leave you wanting more? Is there
another artist who can invest songs about laundry and mathematical symbols with
intrigue and a gentle eroticism?
Bush says making this record nearly killed her, and the weight of expectation alone, after a decade and a half off the radar, may have crushed lesser artists.
Now 47, the voice retains the wide-eyed girlish innocence that always added extra depth to her darker moments, but the upper register gymnastics are happily a thing of the past.
The instrumentation is sumptuous, anchored by mellow piano tones and string arrangements recalling Massive Attack at their peak, and Dan McIntosh's beautifully integrated guitar parts adding to the colour.
'An Architect's Dream' utilises all the above, spoken word from Rolf Harris, and orchestrated bird song, which rather than sliding into pretentious bilge comes up smelling of organically-grown roses. 'Nocturne' is a particular triumph, Gary Brooker's Hammond whipping up an earthy swirl beneath some glorious multi-tracked vocal harmonies, locked into the most animated chill-out groove of the year. Eight minutes has never passed so quickly.
The eclectic and eccentric are integral to the Bush experience, and her laughter on the title track of this remarkably complete record will ring in many ears for a long time to come.
Sky's the limit for Kate
The Evening Standard
November 7, 2005
(4 stars out of 5)
Kate Bush is back with her first album in 12 years, Aerial, Sharleen Spiteri has been writing about her split from her boyfriend and, having taken hip hop to the outer reaches of obscurity, Yoni Wolf now seems to be on his way back...
A lot can happen in 12 years. But in Kate Bush world, musically at least, all stays the same. For, despite its prolonged gestation, Aerial is very much an extension of the sonic landscapes of last album, The Red Shoes. Bush is in wondrous voice, warmly weaving her way through songs of death and birth and all the minutiae in-between. Informed by the key changes in her own life - the death of her mother, the birth of her son - Aerial is Bush's most lyrically intimate album, a heartening sign she no longer needs to keep the world locked outside her door. And though its melodies are slow-burners, tone poems that take time to work their magic, this is a heartfelt, life-affirming record.
by Boyd Hilton
November 12, 2005
(5 stars out of 5)
In a nutshell: Can it be true? A new album from Kate Bush, one of the most elusive yet hugely influential and adored musicians of runtime? Do we sound excited? Well, we've only been waiting 12 years...
What's it like? Even by Kate's notoriously single-minded standards, Aerial a mightily peculiar yet gloriously enjoyable work. It's a go-minute double CD, with unlikely treats which include Rolf Harris, Kate singing about the joys of a washing machine, and a song entitled Pi, the chorus of which has Kate belting out an endless series of numbers. Sing along now: "3.14159..." But, in the end it's all about the sheer beauty of Kate's voice and piano, and her general outlook on life.
How many good tracks? Fourteen, out of 16.
Best track: A Coral Room - a stunning ballad of perfect simplicity.
Worst track: Written for Kate's six year-old son, Bertie is a sweet idea but it's irritatingly executed.
Verdict: Non-fans might be bemused; but with this spectacular album Kate has given us more than we've ever had before of everything we love about her.
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds