The New York Times - album review
The New York Sun - "The Return of a Sultry Songstress"
Bloomberg wire service - "Kate Bush's New Album Is Loony, Refreshing"
Miami New Times - album review
Kalamazoo Gazette - "Kate Bush hits amazing new highs with spellbinding `Aerial'"
The Washington Post - "Bush's Formula For 'Math-Rock'"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - album review
Christian Science Monitor - album review
The Oregonian - "Reappearance of Kate Bush"
Detroit Free Press - album review
The Flint Journal - album review
Fort Worth Star-Telegram - "The comeback queen"
Tufts Daily - "Kate Bush ages gracefully on new 'Aerial' album"
Entertainment Weekly - album review
People - album Review
Austin American Statesman - "Kate Bush's 'Aerial' meets high expectations"
Metro Times - album review
To the Reaching Out (Reviews) Table of Contents
The New York Times
by Ben Ratliff
November 8, 2005
Kate Bush's early records promised a way of engaging with the
world that wouldn't expire with age. Already wise at 18 at her start in the late
70's, she passionately examined her interior life. As pop grew more peevish or
more shallow or more sloganeering, she didn't assimilate.
And then she retreated for a while, raising a child. "Aerial," a two-disc set, is her eighth album, after a 12-year silence. Heaven help a critic who compares Kate Bush to any man, but "Aerial" - which has been described in The Observer of London as "arguably, the most female album in the world" - contains the kind of carefully considered, unfashionable reflections in tranquillity generally identified with middle-aged men in pop like Robert Wyatt or Tom Waits.
When she doesn't check herself, Ms. Bush becomes grandiose. Of course there's a song about Joan of Arc, and a song about her titanic, earth-detonating love for her son, Bertie; of course, a trying song-cycle about birds and painting takes up the second disc. But that disc isn't nearly as strong as the first, which is made up of startling, unconnected songs, seesawing between pop hooks and ephemera. One of the best is "Pi," about a man who loves numbers; she strings out pi to more than a hundred decimal places. It is still a record of integrity, such that purple or out-of-date sounds - like the fake flamenco on "Sunset" and the thin electronic rhythm loops scattered throughout - don't grate as much as they could
The Return of a Sultry Songstress
The New York Sun
by Mollie Ziegler
November 8, 2005
Since Kate Bush disappeared from the pop scene 12 years ago,
many observers and even some hardcore fans have been wondering if there was
anything left of her storied career. Not many were expecting the double album
she releases today, "Aerial" (Columbia), an oblique collection of her trademark
The singer-songwriter arrived on the British music scene in 1978 dressed in a barely-there leotard, with luscious breasts, huge eyes, wild hair, and a piercing three-octave voice. Discovered by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, she signed with EMI at the age of 16 and quickly had her first single at no. 1 on the British chart - a dramatic adaptation of Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" - capturing the imagination of angst-ridden boys and girls.
Over the next decade and a half, Bush cemented her reputation as an enormously gifted musician with a strange ability to synthesize the erotic and literary. She unapologetically expressed the sensuality and strength - and occasional derangement - of women in a way that men could admire. But the songs were never written for men's benefit or attention.
Bush's sudden success soured her on celebrity, and she spent much of the 1980s out of the limelight and in the production studio. This earned her the tag of recluse, and the tabloids reported breathlessly (and falsely) about her supposed weight gain, drug addiction, and mental breakdowns. But with the release of each carefully produced album, her reputation grew.
After 1993's "The Red Shoes," however, the typical four-year span between outputs stretched to 12. It turns out Bush spent much of the last decade building her family - which accounts for this album's uncharacteristically hopeful and refreshingly domestic focus.
The tender "Mrs. Bartolozzi" recounts the bittersweet labor of a wife doing loads of laundry. Bush has been noted for her tendency to eroticize lyrics about despair, fear, and confusion, but here she sexualizes domestic chores: "I watched them going 'round and 'round / My blouse wrapping itself around your trousers."
The first CD, "A Sea of Honey," contains seven strong cuts ranging from the opening homage to Elvis to a song about an obsessive love of math (in which she counts out 116 decimal places of pi) to a poem about her mother's death that utilizes images of a sunken ship and a treasured milk jug. "How To Be Invisible" is probably the best of the bunch. The guitars and percussion lope and gallop around a dark undercurrent that ramps up to Bush's invocation of the invisibility spell: "Eye of braille / Hem of anorak / Stem of wallflower / Hair of doormat."
"A Sky of Honey," the second eight track concept CD, analyzes the natural and creative processes that occur during the earth's daily rotation. Birds chirp and painters paint while guitars and jazz percussion build steadily to the hopeful climax of daybreak. Throughout the whole album, but especially in the second part, the music is deceptively simple. Each distinct instrument is mixed into clean, atmospheric soundscapes.
Which is not to say the album is perfect. Bush is so weird and takes so many risks that she's bound to miss the mark a few times. She may have a timeless quality, but some of her arrangements seem stuck in the 1980s. Still, the album is her most even and compelling since 1985's "Hounds of Love," and her voice sounds sultrier than ever.
Kate Bush's New Album Is Loony,
Bloomberg wire service
by Mark Beech
November 9, 2005
In his 2004 novel, ``Waiting for Kate Bush,'' John Mendelssohn
depicts a man postponing his planned suicide jump off a tower block just so he
could hear the U.K. singer's new album. He may want to hold off a bit longer.
Bush's new recording, ``Aerial,'' (EMI, $16.99), her first in 12 years, is a life-affirming mishmash of music, which runs from Celtic folk to Spanish guitar and school choirs.
The album's roots go back three decades, when the teenage Bush, now 47, signed to EMI and got complete artistic control. The memorable video clip for her debut single ``Wuthering Heights'' captured her quirky single-mindedness, with Bush howling ``Heathcliff, it's meee, I'm Catheee-ee.''
She has continued to combine strangeness with brilliance. The pause after 1993's ``The Red Shoes'' was ominous: Bush faced the death of her mother and silence descended. She finally faced up to the subject, writing the otherworldly ``A Coral Room'' but rejecting it as too personal for release. It is a blessing she has had a rethink because it is the best track on ``Aerial.''
Bush was writing sporadically through the 1990s: the lead-off single, ``King of the Mountain,'' was written a decade ago and ``An Architect's Dream'' while she was pregnant in 1998.
Her son, who contributes sleeve art and is credited for inspiration, is the eponymous subject of ``Bertie.'' A joyful song recalling John Lennon's embarrassing ``Beautiful Boy,'' it is saved by a charming classical accompaniment.
Domestic bliss also inspires ``How to Be Invisible'' as Bush dodges the paparazzi and ``Mrs. Bartolozzi,'' where clothes erotically dance together in the spin cycle to the lyric ``washing machine, washing machine, washing machine.''
``Aerial'' is an unashamedly eccentric album, home made in Bush's studio. Somehow, it works, though the pretentiousness alarm goes off with the 42-minute ``A Sky of Honey.'' This concept piece, inspired by birdsong, includes Bush serenading a pigeon and making twittering sounds while Australian comedian Rolf Harris puts in a cameo appearance as a pavement artist.
At its best, the album recalls the ambient washes of Bush's masterpiece, ``The Hounds of Love,'' from 20 years ago. Images of dreams, sea, sand and sky drift into sound effects, reminiscent of her first mentor, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
The gestation for this album was longer than the Beatles' recording career. Bush's fans may hope they do not have to wait for as long for another dose of her delightfully dippy music.
Miami New Times
by Andrew Marcus
November 10, 2005
As though the Orion nebula shines from her hearth, Kate Bush has
always bridged the cozy with the stratospheric. As the title of her first work
in twelve years suggests, the two-disc set Aerial strays a little further into
the ether than some of her previous work. While the sweepingly operatic second
disc seems to be an ode to a sunset, infused with meditations on art and love,
the first disc does contain more grounded tracks. "Pi" is a character study of a
mathematician, not a tribute to the number itself, and "Joanni" (an ode to a
certain French holy warrior that rings a little off-key with our times) is
offset by "Mrs. Bartolozzi," a vignette about doing the laundry. Even the song's
ambitious arrangements — which include a kaleidoscope courtesy of Bush's supple
piano and adventuresome synth, the London Metropolitan
Orchestra, Hammond organs, and didjeridoos — are kept down-to-earth by hooky melodies and folksy intimacy. And the most moving number is the homiest — "Bertie," a song about her son in which her still-astonishing voice cascades like the moods of a spirited child and swells with motherly devotion
Kate Bush hits amazing new highs
with spellbinding 'Aerial'
by James Sanford
November 9, 2005
"I found a book on how to be invisible," Kate Bush murmurs in
"How To Be Invisible," one of the tracks on her new double-CD set, "Aerial."
She's not telling her fans anything they don't already know: Without warning or
explanation, Bush vanished from the music scene 12 years ago, prompting wild
speculation and some truly bizarre rumors.
Most of those should be put to rest by the release of "Aerial," a mesmerizing masterpiece that finds the British singer-songwriter (who has become a mother during her time away) reflecting on the magnificence and magic of seemingly commonplace things -- a child's smile, mathematics, an artist creating chalk drawings on the sidewalk, etc. -- and tearing away at the majestic facade of fame.
In Bush's wondrous world, Joan of Arc becomes a lovely but lonely crusader who "blows a kiss to God" but "never wears a ring on her finger" (in "Joanni"), while the unhappy spirits of Orson Welles, Rudolph Valentino, Elvis Presley and Walt Disney are summoned and exposed to light in the dreamy, reggae-tinged "King of the Mountain," in which success and adulation are viewed as nothing more than a precursor to self-imposed isolation. "Why does a multi-millionaire fill up his home with priceless junk?" she asks, referring perhaps to the possession obsession of Welles' "Citizen Kane" or to the cluttered rooms of Michael Jackson's Neverland estate.
It's not terribly startling to hear Bush warn about the pitfalls of celebrity, since even before her long hiatus she had been notoriously protective of her privacy. The surprise in "Aerial" is her new fascination with simplicity and everyday life, quite a change from the woman who used to cast herself as Emily Bronte's tormented Cathy (in Bush's 1978 breakthrough hit "Wuthering Heights") or wonder about Aborigine mysticism (in her 1982 single "The Dreaming").
Sometimes Bush's sense of wonder manifests itself in flights of delightful lunacy. Laundry day triggers erotic reveries in "Mrs. Bartolozzi," in which clothes tumbling around in a washing machine suddenly become the bodies of entangled lovers ("my blouse wrapping itself around your trousers"). At other points, Bush uses the familiar to personalize a painful memory. The breathtakingly gorgeous, piano-driven "A Coral Room" lifts phrases from the old drinking song "Little Brown Jug" to illustrate an anecdote about a departed mother.
The second disc of "Aerial" is a full-fledged 42-minute song cycle titled "A Sky of Honey," which could be read as Bush's answer to the Moody Blues' "Days of Future Passed." Chronicling the progress of "a lovely afternoon" into night and then into dawn, "A Sky of Honey" is a salute to both the wonders of nature and to those who strive to capture that glory in art.
Bush observes the creation of an ambitious chalk painting in "An Architect's Dream," then sees it spattered with rain in "The Painter's Link." Although the artist worries that his work has been destroyed, Bush begs to differ: "So all the colors run, see what they have become: a wonderful sunset." Mother Nature knows exactly what she's doing.
So does Bush, who has never sounded as much at ease as she does here. She can still whip up a multi-layered production -- such as the whirling "Pi," in which she envelopes herself inside an electronic cyclone, or the self-effacing "How To Be Invisible," with its backdrop of softly shuddering guitars -- but she's no longer afraid of stillness, as evidenced by the potent pauses and lingering long notes in "A Coral Room" and "Mrs. Bartolozzi."
While some of her longtime admirers might miss the genre-bending wackiness or the spectacular vocal acrobatics that marked her earlier work, "Aerial" is a marvel of consistency and clarity, the work of someone who has learned to appreciate the beauty of small things.
Bush's Formula For 'Math-Rock'
The Washington Post
by J. Freedom du Lac
November 9, 2005
The Unconventional Brit Confounds in 'Aerial'
That Kate Bush: She's so formulaic!
Okay, not really , given the British songstress's well-known penchant for unconventionality.
But still: Not even five minutes into her long-overdue double album, "Aerial," we find the idiosyncratic artist singing tenderly about a man "with an obsessive nature and deep fascination for numbers/and a complete infatuation with the calculation of pi." To illuminate her point, Bush then transforms the digits that make up the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter into one of the most atypical if strangely compelling choruses in recent memory.
"Threeeeeeee/Point-one four one five niiiiinne," she purrs in that swooping, otherworldly three-octave voice of hers. "Two six five three five eight nine seven nine three twooooo," etc., ad (nearly) infinitum.
Indeed, by the time the jazzy, atmospheric song, "Pi," ends, Bush has carried the titular mathematical constant out to more than 100 decimal places. And yet, you somehow find yourself wanting to hear more.
For those about to math-rock, Kate Bush salutes you.
Here's more math: "Aerial" is basically half-good.
After a 12-year hiatus -- a long period during which her fans might have suffered in complete silence if not for all those new Bush-y albums from Tori Amos -- the real Kate Bush has finally presented the world with 16 new tracks. Alas, nine of them make up "Aerial's" not particularly rewarding second disc, "A Sky of Honey," an odd, uneven song suite about art, the sun, the moon and the stars, and, quite naturally, birds that "sound like they're saying words."
Though the drum-machine-driven "Somewhere in Between" is a standout, the "Sky" disc is largely loaded with dated instrumentation, chirping-bird sounds and other artistic flourishes that conspire against greatness, or even goodness, and it features one of the weakest songs of Bush's otherwise impressive career: "Sunset," which starts as an elevator-jazz number and then gets worse, abruptly morphing into some sort of pop-flamenco track.
Perhaps the second disc is some sort of a cruel joke. After all, somebody who sounds an awful lot like Bush spends a good deal of the title song laughing loudly and somewhat manically. Theoretically, she's guffawing at birds, but you never know.
And no, there is no "Pi" in the "Sky." Instead, the song appears on "Aerial's" vastly superior first disc, "A Sea of Honey," which would've made for a fine release on its own.
"Sea's" best song is the lead single, "King of the Mountain," on which Bush wonders whether Elvis has really left the building, or if the King has maybe just punk'd us all. "Another Hollywood waitress/Is telling us she's having your baby," she sings in a quivering voice. The cinematic, slightly pitch-twisted song serves as a reminder that Bush, a noted studio perfectionist, is capable of fits of self-production brilliance, not unlike Brian Wilson circa "Pet Sounds." (Which may explain why "Aerial's" cover prominently features a digital soundwave image.)
But Bush can also create beauty out of sonic simplicity: "Mrs. Bartolozzi," a gorgeous song about housework, of all things, features just a piano and Bush's vocals -- at least until the lilting sound of a girls' choir sweeps through the back part of the mix. For the majority of "Bertie," an elegant valentine to Bush's son, her voice is accompanied by nothing more than a harpsichord, though other elements, including strings and tambourines, are added and subtracted at various points.
Of course, a lot of Bush's lyrics are a long way from simplicity. A literary songwriter whose first hit was the Emily Bronte-inspired "Wuthering Heights," she suffers sometimes from an acute case of obtuseness. Even after a dozen years, she still knows how to confound listeners with the best of them; thus, you get lines like this, from the throbbing "How to Be Invisible": "Eye of Braille/Hem of anorak/Stem of wallflower/Hair of doormat."
Thump of conundrum.
by Scott Mervis
November 10, 2005
(4 stars out of 5)
Kate Bush is the kind of artist about whom people say, "She
could sing the phonebook."
She doesn't sing the phonebook on "Aerial," she sings math, actually crooning the digits of pi on one song. Two songs later she's singing about the contents of a washing machine.
In such moments, you realize it doesn't matter what Kate Bush is singing about -- it's still going to be the aural equivalent of climbing into a warm, candlelit bath.
Bush is back after having fallen off the face of the Earth for 12 years. During that time the likes of Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Bjork filled that void. Having raised her son through early childhood, the British siren returns with a gorgeous and mystifying two-disc set divided into "A Sea of Honey" and "A Sky of Honey."
The opening track, a meditation on Elvis Presley's afterlife called "King of the Mountain," is the closest she comes to a single in the vein of her 1985 hit "Running up That Hill." The better part of it is more muted and atmospheric, filled with her sensuous vocals, the arrangements of Michael Kamen and the nuanced playing of such musicians as Peter Erskine, Gary Booker (Procol Harum) and Dan McIntosh.
"Sea" is an assortment of tracks -- an ancient folk song to her son ("Bertie"); a Peter Gabriel-esque ode to Joan of Arc ("Joanni"); a bit of witchcraft on "How to be Invisible," something she knows a good deal about.
The 9-track "Sky of Honey" is a conceptual piece about the movement of light through the day that culminates with Bush becoming one with the birds. It's the more musically rich of the two, moving from elegant piano fusion to Latin beats to pulsing rock. Bush's voice matches the beauty of lines like "This is a song of colour/where sands sing in crimson, red and rust/Then climb into bed and turn to dust."
Bush, so innovative early in her career, may not rewrite the book with "Aerial." But it's a lovely re-entry, and it might be the record you reach for to watch the snow fall on a winter's night.
Christian Science Monitor
by Stephen Humphries
November 10, 2005
It's been 12 years since Kate Bush last released an album, but the British art rocker's influence has since been heard in the unusual sonic architecture of Björk and the confessional piano ballads of Sarah McLachlan. Even Outkast's Big Boi cites her as his favorite artist. On "Aerial," a double album in which songs plunge through the looking glass into an ethereal dimension, Bush has lost none of her power to entrance. Her beautiful siren's voice, a whirling dervish of octaves one minute, a whispered coo the next, is the principal instrument on a record where baroque viol sits comfortably alongside Pink Floyd-like guitar. Bush is still able to delve into emotional recesses of the heart like few others can. On "The Coral Room," a song eulogizing her mother, the singer quietly evokes imagery of a mourner leaning over a boat and trailing her hand in the sea. The song's impact, like the album as a whole, is devastating.
Reappearance of Kate Bush
by Marty Hughley
November 11, 2005
"I found a book on how to be invisible
Take a pinch of keyhole
And fold yourself up
You cut along the dotted line
You think inside out
And you're invisible." -- Kate Bush, "How to Be Invisible"
So that's how she did it?
Well, that and not putting out a new album for 12 years, while, as usual, not touring, either.
Kate Bush, in fact, has toured only once, and that was a quarter-century ago. She's a pop star, but she's no jet-setter (afraid to fly, reputedly) out to milk celebrity for all of its ego-puffing perks. Such restraint, along with the meticulously crafted nature of her music, has contributed to her reputation as an eccentric recluse. Leaving her worshipful cult following in such a lengthy limbo after 1993's "The Red Shoes" made it seem that she'd completed a willful disappearing act.
But the release at long last of her eighth album, the two-disc "Aerial," not only puts her back into the entertainment world eye, it supports her contention in recent interviews that she's not a hermit, she's simply a normal person leading a normal life and trying to do good work.
The longer you keep fans waiting, though, the greater their expectations.
Adding to an oeuvre of such dazzling depth as hers is no mean feat, either. Mentored by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Bush became a star in Britain at 18 with the fanciful yet precociously sophisticated pop of her debut album. In 1982 she released her masterwork, "The Dreaming," a darkly cinematic slice of art-rock ambition that topped her friend Peter Gabriel's similar experiments with ethnic drums, sampling keyboards and all manner of sonic mise-en-scene. "Hounds of Love," from 1985, was just as audaciously creative, and even spawned her American breakthrough, the hit single "Running Up That Hill."
Those albums took time to absorb and fully appreciate, but they did announce their presence in bold strokes -- the theatrical voices of "Suspended in Gaffa," the galloping drums of "The Big Sky," vivid story songs, grand philosophical musings.
"Aerial," by contrast, is a decidedly subtle affair, less the kind of record you have to dive into than the kind that has to seep into you. In that respect it most resembles 1989's "The Sensual World," on which Bush turned to a more organic and (by her own description) feminine approach.
Like "Hounds," though, "Aerial" is split between a set of individual pieces (disc 1, "A Sea of Honey") and a conceptual song cycle (disc 2, "A Sky of Honey"). The latter is not, as The New York Times contended, "about birds and painting" so much as it is about quality of light and quality of life, tracking the emotional resonances of a day, from afternoon to dawn. Neither the melodic nor lyrical themes are presented in sharp relief, yet they've a poetic grace that tugs gently at the ear and heart.
The other songs range in subject from Elvis (the rueful "King of the Mountain") to Joan of Arc ("Joanni") to numerological obsession ("Pi," on which she coos a long string of numerals as if it were a spell of seduction). Bush's own domesticity can be felt through "Bertie," an unabashed love song to her 7-year-old son, and the strange workaday reverie of "Mrs. Bartolozzi" (here's the chorus: "washing machine, washing machine"). And "The Coral Room," in remembrance of Bush's late mother, weaves images as disparate as a ruined city and a milk jug into a profoundly moving meditation on love and loss.
Though none of it is immediate, it's all gorgeous. Her voice has settled into a comforting sweet spot, somewhere between the pixie-queen soprano of her debut and the dramatic extremes of "The Dreaming" and "Hounds." The prog-rock intricacies, the Celtic flavorings, even the funk feel that surfaced on parts of "The Red Shoes," are present, but only as ghosts, stylistic forebears of a nearly subliminal synthesis.
As the London newspaper The Guardian put it, "her music remains reassuringly the same ecstatic alchemy of the humdrum and otherworldly."
Take a pinch of keyhole and disappear into it for yourself.
Detroit Free Press
by Martin Bandyke
November 11, 2005
Hell has officially frozen over. That's because arty English
singer Kate Bush is finally, finally releasing something new after a whopping
As it is, the two-disc album overstays its welcome and would have worked far better as a single disc.
Part 1, A Sea of Honey, is the successful half, with a captivating variety of songs dealing with such diverse topics as Elvis Presley worship ("King of the Mountain"), mathematically inclined significant others ("Pi") and Bush's son ("Bertie").
Disc 2, A Sky of Honey, is a labored, quasi-concept album that takes place over a single day and tries too hard to be profound. Bogging down many of these songs are the dozy, smooth-jazz musical stylings.
(also published in the Orlando Sentinel)
The Flint Journal
By Doug Pullen
November 11, 2005
Motherhood, and a 12-year absence, have softened Kate Bush's
edges a bit, but her conceptual mastery and textural brilliance are very much in
evidence on the suite-like double CD "Aerial." Describing it as "the most
difficult album I have ever made" on her Web site, Bush's labors easily pay off
in these lush song cycles that sound like a long list of ruminations accumulated
over a long period of contemplation. Say a dozen years.
Who else but the high-concept Ms. Bush, England's female equivalent of Peter Gabriel, make a song about pi (the mathematical equation, not the dessert) sound so palatable? Along the way on this 16-song journey about life, creation, motherhood, art, nature, a higher power and how they are all intertwined, there are stops to ponder the price of fame (evoking Elvis and Citizen Kane's sled on "King of the Mountain"); the joys of motherhood (the lovely, Elizabethan "Bertie"); the rush of the artistic kick inside ("An Architect's Dream"); devotion to the mundane ("Mrs. Bartolozzi"); and a celebration of summer (the flamenco-tinged "Sunset").
Bush's voice remains remarkably light and expressive, more so now that she's dropped all the vocal pyrotechnics of her youth. Her predeliction for lush, layered, keyboard-based arrangements serves her well here. Though there are missteps - "Mrs. Bartolozzi" is a bit too overwrought, even if it is told from the character's point of view - "Aerial" is one of those musical achievements that reveals more of itself with each listen. It's a compelling look into the mind and heart of one of art-rock's true visionaries.
The comeback queen
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
by Mark Lowry
November 11, 2005
A warning to influential artists who haven't released an album in 12 years -- and whose previous two records were good but didn't match the brilliance of earlier material: Your new effort better be amazing.
Kate Bush's answer to that challenge: "Done."
After a too-long absence in which she had a child and apparently wrote oceans of songs, the eccentric British art-rock chanteuse returns with the duel-disc Aerial, her first recording since 1993's The Red Shoes.
And it's definitely worth the wait.
Cascading with literary lyrics and complex, atmospheric music that is textured with pulsing percussion, gypsy guitar, haunting organ and even a didgeridoo, Aerial is her best work since 1985's Hounds of Love. In some ways it even recalls the urgent mystique and vocal theatrics of 1982's marvelously bizarre The Dreaming.
The performance-arty The Dreaming represents a marker of Bush's music, in that it is extraordinarily visual. She studied dance and physical theater, and those elements are prominent throughout her oeuvre. The latter half of Hounds of Love, a cycle titled "The Ninth Wave," feels like prime material for a contemporary ballet.
"A Sky of Honey," Aerial's second disc (and the superior one), has a similar impact. Using motifs of bird song and light, it chronicles a day from afternoon (the dreamy Prologue) to the dusky light that inspires a painter (An Architect's Dream) to a midsummer night's swim (the breathy innocence of Nocturn) and on to dawn in the moody Aerial. The latter two songs find Bush experimenting with laughter and strenuous-sounding vocals, similar to (but toned down from) The Dreaming.
The first disc, "A Sea of Honey," ranges from the medieval-sounding love song to her child, Bertie, to the hypnotic How To Be Invisible. In Pi, she evocatively sings a series of numbers suggesting love's infinite nature. As for the lovely and sad Mrs. Bartolozzi, well, you've never heard the words "washing machine" sung with such elegant heartbreak.
Bush, who entered the music scene in 1978 at age 19, has had a significant foothold among contemporary female singer-songwriters and producers, inspiring countless others (there's reason for the loving nickname of Tori Amos, the artist frequently equated with Bush: "Tori-Almost-Kate-Bush").
Here's hoping Bush's next album isn't a dozen years off. But if so, Aerial proves that you can maintain relevance, even as a "comeback artist."
Kate Bush ages gracefully on new
by Mikey Goralnik
November 14, 2005
Earlier this year, this writer lambasted the Rolling Stones' latest album for the band's doleful attempts to make their new work sound like the Stones' albums of yesteryear, for trying to relive the raucous abandon of their 20's as decrepit geriatrics and drug casualties.
On "Aerial," her first album in twelve years, 47-year-old British singer-songwriter Kate Bush shows her countrymen how an aging musician can continue to apply her particular gift decades after it was first unleashed.
For Bush's part, "Aerial," whose two discs are divided into chapters ("A Sea of Honey" and "A Sky of Honey"), is as lyrically sweeping, vocally expert, and viscerally poignant as any record of her 27-year career. Since her debut in 1978, she has proved that she can write about anything, and on "Aerial" - especially "A Sea of Honey" - she does.
Bush is serious on "Bertie," where she captures her immense love for her son. She (meekly) harangues perpetual dissatisfaction on ""King of the Mountain," where she asks, "Could you climb higher and higher? / Could you climb right over the top?" She portrays the utterly mundane, as in her depiction of homemaking on "Mrs. Bartolozzi," and the bizarre, like her ode to the many digits of pi on the aptly titled "Pi." (Yes, she actually sings "3.1415926535....")
But despite Bush's topical inconsistency, "Aerial" is a remarkably coherent album. Bush vocals, rich, textured and warm, link "Aerial's" songs in ways that her lyrical vision, at least superficially, does not. For example, despite their apparent thematic polarity, Bush imbues "Bertie" with the same lush, velvety sincerity as "Pi," suggesting that her beloved son, the infamous number, and everything in between are all part of the same larger entity.
At its core, "Aerial" is about Bush's life and the things that now comprise it. The Stones wanted to make the public (or themselves) think that they are still the same guys they were when their fans first fell in love with them. While it sounds simple, Kate Bush at 47 has accepted that she should not - indeed, cannot - write about the same things she did when she debuted as a teenager, or even her last record.
She can, however, still write the same way. Like the rest of her catalogue, "Aerial" is vocally masterful, personal, vivid and powerful. Given her personal achievements on this record, it is even more disappointing that the music buoying her vocals is so horrendous.
Whereas cool, young people could once get hooked on Kate Bush albums (Tori Amos worships her), if you're not already a fan of Bush's songwriting or really into contemporary adult music, you probably will not like this record. Faux trip-hop, laughably brooding keyboards, muted jazzy drums and saccharine production give "Aerial" all the musical sincerity and intimacy of a John Hughes film.
The bongo-ed percussion and oscillating strings of "An Architect's Dream" have all the richness and warmth of a dentist's office, perhaps the only place where they play that kind of music. The ill-advised, confounding mariachi jam of "Sunset" is so contrived and artificial that it makes the lyrically poetic and elaborate song one of the album's worst.
Too often on "Aerial," Bush weighs down her vocals with cheesy, meaningless music, keeping the album from meeting the standard suggested by her singing and songwriting.
When the music does properly complement the vocals, it's only when Bush is playing it. Her piano work, lonely and stately, is as complex and evocative as her vocals. On songs like "Mrs. Bartolozzi," Bush weaves her swirling piano melodies and voice into a singular sound, both human and inorganic, and the song benefits from the instrumentation.
This is, obviously, a testament to Bush's personal abilities. She plays the piano, sings and writes with the elegance and immeasurable skill we're used to. Still, perhaps more laudably, she embraces the natural progression of these skills on "Aerial," maintaining the essence of her past from the perspective of her present. If she didn't suck at picking a band, she could have had a remarkable record.
by Marc Weingarten
November 18, 2005
Maturity hasn’t dulled Kate Bush’s propensity for musical loopiness. Twelve years after her last album, she is still besotted by all the wonders of this good green earth. On this sprawling but focused two-CD set, she is a sprite flitting across verdant, languorous soundscapes, cooing along with the birdsong and extolling the virtues of her son, the beauty of numbers—even doing the wash—all the while mesmerizing with her controlled whimsy and intricate arrangements that never overwhelm her voice. Considering the length of her hiatus, this is a remarkable surprise
November 21, 2005
(3 stars out of 4)
Before Fiona Apple, before Tori Amos, Kate Bush was the goddess of avant-garde pop. But it seemed as if the otherworldly soprano really had moved to another planet following her last release 1993's The Red Shoes. After a 12-year break, during which she took time out for motherhood, the British enchantress has landed back with a double album that's ambitious even for her. At 80 minutes total, the lushly atmospheric Aerial isn't much longer than many single CDs, but has two distinct realms: Disc 1, subtitled A Sea of Honey, showcases Bush's sweetly fluid vocals and evocative soundscapes on songs like Pi, on which she sings a sequence of the infinite series of numbers and makes it sound beautiful. Disc 2, subtitled A Sky of Honey, is an even artier conceptual work that follows a day from afternoon to sunrise, complete with bird sounds. While Aerial may sometimes be a bit too high-minded for its own good, it's easy to get lost in Bush's sonic reverie.
Kate Bush's 'Aerial' meets
Austin American Statesman
November 15, 2005
(3 stars out of 5)
There's never been anyone else like Kate Bush. Many have tried
to copy her wispy, space-cadet vibe (Tori Amos, we are all looking at you). Yet
1978's "Wuthering Heights," cut when she was just 19, is still one of rock's
most singular debuts, a perfect mess of literary songcraft, giant drums,
melodramatic strings and pent-up teenage sexuality exploding out of its corset,
all of it barely anchored by Bush's thrillingly mercurial voice. Nobody, but
nobody, does Kate quite like Kate.
This is why it's such big news that the sprawling "Aerial" — a double album 12 years in the making — has finally seen the light of day. The last we heard from Kate was 1993's vaguely disappointing and oddly dancey "The Red Shoes," itself the first album since 1989's Joycean orgasm "The Sensual World." Bush takes her time, and becoming a mother in 1999 pushed this album back further and further into, as is weirdly appropriate for Bush, the realm of the unreal and the rumored.
And like everything saddled with such hype — "Star Wars: Episode One," an Astros World Series, Clinton's second term — it can't possibly live up to the mental picture we've made for ourselves. Like too many double CDs, there are moments of high indulgence. But this is Kate Bush: At least the misfires couldn't have come from anyone else.
For an artist so associated with the grand gesture and the proggy concept album, Bush is a totally aces singles artists; doubters can throw on her 1986 singles set "The Whole Story" (which it isn't) and be hard pressed to find a bum note.
"King of the Mountain," the first single from "Aerial" and the first track on the poppier disc "A Sea of Honey," takes her back to first principles, namely Elvis. The booklet sports a photo of an Elvis-esque jumpsuit on a clothesline, as apt a metaphor as any for Bush's singular combination of domesticity and rock music's inherent freedoms. Zoned out synths, weirdly funky guitar and eternal questions about man who became a myth, like Charles Foster Kane: "Are you out there somewhere/ Looking like a happy man/in the snow with Rosebud/and king of the mountain?" There's the ode to "Pi" in which, yes, she sings the numbers. Her family makes the first of many appearances on "Bertie," named for her young son, one which Ren-faire strings underpinning "sweet kisses/three wishes." Cello and naked piano drive "Mrs. Bartolozzi" as grief and memory tumble in the "washing machine ... washing machine." (An actual lyric, no kidding.)
Disc 2, "A Sky of Honey," is more conceptual, roughly the story of a day and a painter's attempts to capture it, and this is more like it. Filled with ambient birdsong and waves of sound, it also features Bertie speaking the "Prelude" as "the Sun." (Sun? Son? Get it?), "An Architect's Dream" and "the Painter's Link" build the story. "Somewhere in Between" gives it a shuffling beat, while the smashing closer "Aerial" stacks up a catchy, repeated riff, rumbling percussion and an over-the-top guitar solo straight out of the progressive rock Bush was raised on. The sun sets with the painter on the roof, incapable of taming nature, but determined to give it another go tomorrow. Which is what Bush's work has been about all along.
Metro Times (Detroit)
by Johnny Loftus
November 16, 2005
Aerial is cleaved in two, separated into one disc of song-type pieces and another that examines the continuum of a day with spiritual verve. It has cryptic cover art, elliptical lyrics, unpredictable arrangements, and at its center is Bush herself, art-rock queen, who really just wants to sing about ... suburbia? Well, not the suburbs, per se. But Aerial’s grandeur comes mostly from the simplicity of contentment and joy. Bush lives happily in the English countryside and lets her mind travel to the flashy or sensual places where her music used to; the music here, whether Renaissance-based, piano-led, or jazzy and exploratory, is ultimately pretty genteel. After all, Bush doesn’t need an illuminated manuscript or complicated theme to describe the joy of being a parent. “Here comes that son of mine,” she sings in “Bertie.” “You bring me so much joy.” Aerial’s photography draws meaning from domesticity — clotheslines and swimming, birds alighting on golden ponds — and even Disc 2’s song cycle unfurls like a scroll of familiar family stories. As in anything of Kate Bush’s, there are bits of the fanciful, opaque and intellectual in Aerial. But she’s aligned her particular magic with the boundless promise of everyday human life, and that’s uplifting.
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds