icScotland.com - "Kate
Sigla Magazine - album review
Pitchfork - Review of "King of the Mountain"
Salon.com - Brilliant careers: Kate Bush
Gigwise.com - Review of "King of the Mountain"
Channel4.com - "Album Secrets revealed: Kate Bush: track by track!"
Gigwise.com - "Kate Bush Slams Culture's 'Silly' Obsession With Celebrity"
BBC.co.uk (BBC6) - "Kate Bush Talks"
Playlouder.com - album review
Barnes & Noble - album review
Amazon - album review
BBC.co.uk - "This is a masterpiece"
MusicOMH.com - album review
MusicOMH.com - "Kate Bush: Mystery Maiden?"
To the Reaching Out (Reviews) Table of Contents
Kate Bush back on form with first single in 12 years
by Stephen McKenna
September 22, 2005
'For the first time anywhere in the world here is Kate Bush's new single King of the Mountain'
The eagerly anticipated new single from the enigmatic Kate Bush got an exclusive first play on Ken Bruce's show on BBC Radio 2 yesterday morning (September 21st). The very privileged Ken Bruce was inundated with phone calls and emails about his exclusive first play of the latest offering from the reclusive queen of British music.
I have had a chance to listen back to King of the Mountain a few times and it sounds really fresh. Opening with some delightful percussive synth noises, Kate's idiosyncratic voice comes through and the whole track feels very atmospheric and nonchalant. The song still has the inimitable Kate Bush sound about it but is a little more modern than material from her 1993 album The Red Shoes.
The brand new album from Kate Bush is called Aerial and will be released on November 7th. Aerial is reputed to be a double album and it is currently under lock and key in a vault deep in the depths of EMI records. The first disc consists of just one track lasting over half an hour! The second disc has seven tracks on it.
New single King of the Mountain will be released on CD on October 24th.
King of the Mountain is available for download on September 27th.
October 19, 2005
( four stars out of four)
Talking to wood pigeons, lyrics about laundry, bird sounds, homages to
Elvis and Joan of Arc, Rolf Harris duets? It can only be the new Kate Bush
Like millions of Kate Bush fans I’ve been waiting a long time for Aerial, her new double album. I have all of her albums on vinyl; I own two video collections, which I dug out, carried away by waves of pre release publicity; her birthday is the day before mine and I take some sort of cosmic solace in this. Not only does her back catalogue stand up in 2005, the videos even at their most cheaply theatrical, prove that Kate Bush was always ahead of her time. I was a teenager (just about) when she last released an album and The Red Shoes, while it has its moments, is not considered one of her best. Wavering between excitement and trepidation, I trekked out to EMI’s Dublin office.
As the door closed and ‘King of the Mountain’ filled the room, I sat back trying to decide on the ratio between scribbling notes and just soaking it in. The single, released this Friday, is already heavily playlisted and is seen as a positive precursor of what’s to come on the album. Bush presents the story of Elvis the lost genius, through swooping, sweeping strings. A wood percussion sample (marimba? xylophone?) runs through adding a playful note and with one song down, it’s so far so good. Pi reminds us that we’re in Kate Bush land, where song titles about circles and numerical rambling are delivered via Bodhrán beats and keyboards stabs. By song three, you begin to notice something. The velvet pitch of her voice not only sounds as good as expected after a 12-year hiatus, it has a deeper, bewitching resonance. Production on some of the earlier albums tended to accentuate its shrill quality, not doing justice to Bush’s capability as a vocalist. Here, every nuance is teased out, arching along the spectrum of imagination.
‘Bertie’, named after her son (whose drawings adorn the King of the Mountain cover) oozes pride and spirituality. Mandolins swirl around the line “you bring me so much joy/and then you bring me more joy”, repeated like a maternal mantra. ‘Mrs. Bartolozzi’ is a real surprise; on the surface a simple domestic tale of washing machines – “splashy splosy… get those cuffs and collar clean” - hints at something darker. Could anyone else sing about doing laundry and make it sound so beautiful?
This is in part, due to a camerilla of contributors who she has worked with consistently over the years. The musical arrangements by long-time (and sadly late) Michael Kamen echo the multi-layered orchestration of The Sensual World. Most obvious on the single and ‘Joanni’ (about Joan of Arc), strings and drums build to the kind of epic mysterious highs we’ve come to expect. ‘A Coral Room’, a reflective piano piece recalls her mother and strikes the same poignant chimes as ‘This Woman’s Work’.
There are dips, and they come in the usual guise: a jarring commercialism that sounds as though session musicians bearing big 80s snare drums and sliding bass guitars have gatecrashed the studio. ‘How To Be Invisible’ and ‘Nocturn’ suffer this fate, but thankfully amid 16 tracks, they are in the minority.
If A Sea of Honey is classic Kate, CD 2, A Sky of Honey is the conceptual ante room. Recorded in seven parts, it’s a cyclical snapshot of the dawn-dusk-dawn journey. In ‘Prelude’, vocals mimic wood pigeons and a child cackles happily, ‘Prologue’ boasts a cello echo bouncing off strings and grand piano. Much has been made of Rolf Harris’ appearance on the album – on ‘An Architect’s Dream’ and ‘The Painter’s Link’ - but this time he’s without his didgereedoo, offering subtle vocals instead. The latter is troubled by more overbearing bass but it segues in to the chameleon ‘Sunset’. All three contain the same recurring motifs, rhythms and sounds. Kate tells us “this is a song of colour”, apt imagery for her broad canvas of moods and sounds. The tempo quickens and out of nowhere Spanish guitars usher in a mariachi skiffle.
It’s obvious CD 2 is a test site of sorts for Bush’s continuing interest in non-linear musical form and eclectic instruments. ‘Aerial Tal’ continues the birdsong and the most palpable electonic flashes surface briefly. Before it all gets too vague and unhinged, Kate delivers the best track on the entire album. ‘Somewhere In Between’ consolidates the overall epic rush of Aerial, but its off kilter drums, bass-heavy beats and dreamy incongruity make this the most original piece here.
Having left us waiting so long, the last and penultimate tracks both feature laughter, whether she’s glad it’s nearly over or happy to back, remains to be seen. Nocturn’s only highlight is a big ominous choir (we won’t mention the Clannad feel to it) while the title track ‘Aerial’, is sheer hysterical abandon. Violin loops fade in and out, tribal beats steer bird tweets and mandolin. By the end, you literally can’t help yourself stamping your feet.
Kate Bush is an original, a one-off and it’s not hard to see why everyone from Tori Amos to Allison Goldfrapp owe a stylistic and compositional debt to her. While she takes risks with the varying mood, overall the album is rooted in contemplation of the the world around us. She has come along way since the wide-eyed pop urchin who plundered Emily Bronte’s novel, but she has not lost her childlike view of things. These are songs of the imagination that transport you to a place where you want to daydream compulsively.
by Rachel Khong
October 11, 2005
Especially since Lesley Herskovits, loser-hero of John Mendelssohn's Waiting for Kate Bush, put off killing himself just so he could hear the aforementioned Brit songstress's new album, it's too bad "King of the Mountain" doesn't sound like twelve years in the making. Not that it's mom-rock or anything. Bush's pipes just don't weird us out like they used to. The song's as contrived as it is billowy and ethereal, and she's swapped talk of Wuthering Heights for ruminations on Elvis ("Another Hollywood waitress/ Is telling us she's having your baby/ And there's a rumour that you're on ice/ And you will rise again someday"), all set to 1980s chirps gone new age. Reason enough for Lesley Herskovits to live-- still, he's probably wondering, "Baboosh-wha?"
Brilliant careers: Kate Bush
by Amy Standen
March 20, 2001
With a voice you either love or hate, she belts out a song with a desperation that grabs you and won't let go.
The first thing about Kate Bush is her voice. If you hate her, that's probably why. It's childish and prickly, and she sweeps through her four-octave range with all the inhibition of someone taking a shower in an empty house, seemingly oblivious to the fingernails-on-chalkboard effect a voice like that can have. Maybe Bush knows this and maybe she doesn't. It doesn't matter, she'll sing anyway.
Catherine Bush was born on July 30, 1958, to a doctor and his nurse/dancer wife, in the town of East Wickham in Kent, England, 50 miles from Stonehenge. The woods around East Wickham, at dusk and in the early morning, take on a misty eeriness that carries the scent of something creaking and pagan and scary. And the farmhouses there, like the one Kate Bush grew up in, are old, 17th century old, and large and drafty and suggestive. It's not hard to imagine that people have died in rooms like those from tuberculosis and consumption and childbirth, that torrid love letters were urgently delivered and ghosts rattled the windows at night. And if you are a bookish teenage girl, and you have the kind of imagination that fills in the gaps that life leaves open for you, you will, in a place like East Wickham, have a little Kate Bush in you.
Kate Bush was a small person in a small town: meek, delicate and, in the recollections of her classmates, annoyingly passive, as reported by Fred Vermorel in his "Secret History of Kate Bush: And the Strange Art of Pop."
"She was so nice it was ridiculous," said one.
Another said: "I was jealous of her. So petite and so pretty. A perfect little goody-goody."
Vermorel quotes Bush saying, "School was a very cruel environment and I was a loner. But I learnt to get hurt and I learnt to cope with it." One way she coped was by coming home from school and making up songs at the piano. Loner songs. She went inward early on and never came out again.
When Bush was 16, she produced a demo tape with the help of her two musician brothers, Paddy and John Carder, who managed to get the tape, through friends, to Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. Gilmour liked it and passed it on to EMI, which promptly came back to Bush with a remarkable deal: The record company wanted her but didn't think she was ready yet. So they gave Bush money and three years to "grow up with." Bankrolled, she dropped out of school and played local shows as the KT Bush Band, with her brothers as backup. She took mime classes and dance, both of which would always be a part of her work; then in 1977 she gave EMI a gigantic hit.
There are probably few things more galling for an established musician than reviewers who hover lovingly around work you did 25 years ago, ignoring or glossing over anything more recent. This has always been Kate Bush's problem. "The Kick Inside," her first album, went to the top of the British charts almost immediately, largely based on the success of "Wuthering Heights," her first No. 1 single and the most commercially successful of her career.
"Wuthering Heights" sounded like nothing else. It seemed to come out of some
raging tornado inside her; it growled and screeched and pitched, as Bush/Cathy
begs her lover Heathcliff to come join her in death.
Ooh, it gets dark! It gets lonely
On the other side from you ...
How could you leave me
when I needed to possess you
I hated you
I loved you too.
Bush has always teetered dangerously at the edge of sentimentality and cliché, and her early songs (what one reviewer called her "soft-focus Victorian melodramas") could have gone all wrong had her bizarre phrasing not somehow let us know how serious she was.
Bush sang melodramas, but she meant them like truth; those "oohs" aren't filler. The conviction in her voice, the baldness and great crushing desperation of it, is overpowering. It's the kind of music that grabs your innards and you turn it up, squint your eyes with the strain of it. Kate Bush was younger than 20 when she wrote "Wuthering Heights." She couldn't (and still can't) read or write music, but she knew how to make a song true, how to up the tension with a key change, repeat the chorus with a hardness in her voice.
She was a prodigy, an 18-year-old who looked 35, with an ethereal voice and a knack for inventive songwriting. She looks, in photos of the time, simultaneously naive and defiant, like someone who doesn't need other people. Much later in life, when she was asked in an interview with Rolling Stone why she toured so infrequently, Bush replied: "The more I got into presenting things to the world, the further it was taking me away from what I was, which was someone who just used to sit quietly at a piano and sing and play. It became very important to me not to lose sight of that."
In other words, Bush decided early on that our approval didn't matter. She was doing this from herself and largely for herself and if people didn't like her, or if they didn't understand her, well then, screw them.
She did everything herself, and it shows in the absolute precision of her songs. There's nothing spontaneous about Bush's elaborately produced arrangements, from the way she weaves her voice around the Trio Bulgarka, in "Rocket's Tail" on the sixth album, "The Sensual World" (1989), to the way she mixes in sound effects -- street sounds, bird sounds, artillery shots, wind, conversations -- in stereo, sometimes barely audibly. There's a decisiveness here, and more than a touch of the perfectionist. Bush was only 21 when she said to an interviewer from England's Newcastle Journal: "I'll always be tough on myself. But I find the strength in being alone, fighting a battle and emerging satisfied that I've done my best. Perhaps that's what is strange about me."
Kate Bush fan sites commonly and adoringly refer to her "getting her way" about everything from the production of an album to the amount of time she has to produce it, from the look of a video to the image on her album jackets. She's stingy with interviews (and is said to demand veto power over which photos will accompany the magazine articles) and as a result of this and her insistent aloofness, the interviews that do get published inevitably come off a little dull. One Rolling Stone interviewer described the frustration of trying to get Bush to speak about her personal life: "Try to pin her down on a matter of emotional substance and her expression goes blank, a shutter descends -- clunk! -- and that's the end of that."
Kate Bush wants fame the way Greta Garbo wanted it. She pours her guts out in her music and dance and belts out her words with barely a trace of self-consciousness, but the edges of her private life -- her relationship with bass player Del Palmer, with her brothers, the recent birth of her son Bertie -- have been airbrushed out to a maddening obscurity. It took Paddy Bush, Kate's brother and longtime musical collaborator (he's responsible for bringing world music -- the didgeridoo, Bulgarian choruses, Irish jigs -- to Bush's music), to explain her reclusiveness so plainly that you almost like her for it.
"I know this may give her a mystique and make the press all the more curious about her, but that's not the intention; it's not a ploy to get her more attention. She genuinely doesn't see why people should be interested in her personal life and she certainly doesn't like going out to clubs or trendy restaurants. It's just not her."
"It's the music that says it; it says it eloquently enough," Kate Bush said in an interview with the Toronto Star. Clunk!
"The Kick Inside" was followed quickly by "Lionheart" in 1978, the cover of which features Bush, her penchant for leotards and bodysuits firmly established, on all fours in a furry catsuit, her hair crimped into a mane. "Lionheart" was followed by "Never Forever" in 1980. If "The Kick Inside" offered Victorian novels and Feminism 101 ("No we never die/We keep bouncing back/Because we're woman!" she exulted), "Never Forever" went dark, winning Bush her goth audience. She was getting weirder too: On this album cover she's dressed up as a bat, black lace wings outstretched, tongue way out.
She was still young when she made "Never Forever," and some of her songs gush with a naive exuberance that's endearing when it works and saccharine when it doesn't. She's crazy for Egypt ("Oh, I'm in love with Egypt!"), the violin ("Get the bow going, let it scream to me!"). But it's the last song on the album, one called "Breathing," that really brings out Bush at her hugest, most theatrical, over-the-top best.
On "Breathing" she pulls no punches. Her telling of nuclear holocaust starts
right at the moment of death, at the last gasp. "Chips of plutonium are
twinkling in every lung," she sings with so much anguish that it works. It's one
of the only truly scary songs I know.
What are we going to do without
Ooh, please, let me breathe
Quick, breathe in deep
Leave us something to breathe
We are all going to die
The drastic scale of this song, the way it ends -- a single synthesized thud signaling some kind of global death knell -- would be a little, well, silly if it weren't so convincing. Possessed of a confidence so strong, and a sense of self-importance so grave, Bush attacks that song like it's the last one she'll ever sing. You could laugh at her, but it would be like laughing at a monk; how do you argue with someone whose conviction is that strong? Can you help finding yourself just a little converted?
It wasn't until "Hounds of Love" (1985), Bush's fifth album, that she finally became well known in the United States. Even with the success of that album, she's better known here as an influence for a generation of young female singer-songwriters such as Jewel, Tori Amos and k.d. lang. "Hounds of Love" was big, but Bush's U.S. fame never matched what she'd had in England.
It may be that by the time Americans became aware of Kate Bush we'd already decided we liked our women tough. Patti Smith bared her armpit hair on the cover of "Easter" and wore her androgyny like a badge. Debbie Harry pouted and strutted, and Pat Benatar scowled. When Kate Bush looked at us, if she looked at us, she did so blankly, without insult or invitation. She didn't bother to provoke.
When female American pop stars weren't tough, they were languid and sexy, two things Kate Bush could never be, and she sounded forced whenever she tried. The early EMI photos do their damnedest to crank up the sex appeal, but there's something a little cold about them, as if she's holding back. Kate Bush is beautiful, but at heart, you sense, she never stopped being that overeager girl in drama class, the one with the guitar and the black turtlenecks.
Bush was never funny enough, either. Describing her youth, she once recalled, "I was aware of a lot of my friends being into things I wasn't into. Like sarcasm. It had never been a part of my family -- they still don't use sarcasm." That kind of sobriety is what allows Bush to pull off songs like "Breathing," but sometimes, particularly in her recent work, you want her to take herself a little less seriously.
Bush's latest album is not very recent; it came out in 1993. "The Red Shoes" was based on the Hans Christian Andersen story about the girl who puts on a magic pair of slippers and finds herself unable to stop dancing. Like "Wuthering Heights," this is perfect Kate Bush material. It's got magic and dancing and tragedy, and the vaguely sinister mood that permeates so much of her music.
Bush could have toured "The Red Shoes." Fans are still awaiting a follow-up to her only tour, in 1979 -- an elaborately choreographed costume extravaganza that necessitated the invention of the first microphone headset. But she chose to make a movie instead, opting for the contained and controllable over the interactive, and called it "The Line, the Cross and the Curve." Like her albums, the video was a Bush-only affair, with Kate singing, dancing, acting (along with Miranda Richardson and others), directing and presiding over the production.
It wasn't disastrous: Bush's fans are tuned in to the Kate Bush sensibility, and the thick symbolism of it fits an aesthetic she's been developing all along. She made a film that's as laden with emotion and meaning as anything else she's done, but she's like someone remembering a dream she had the night before; Bush gets so lost in the story that she forgets whom she's talking to. She leaves her audience behind.
"It's not important to me that people understand me," Bush said in an interview after the film's release. And thank God for that. Bush may have lost us with "The Red Shoes" and "The Line, the Cross and the Curve," but it wasn't the first time she'd taken the chance. She took us to the apocalypse, after all, and if she'd been too concerned with what we'd think of her for that, she never would have made the trip.
About the writer
Amy Standen is an associate editor at Salon.
by Daniel Melia
October 21, 2005
Now children you may think it's a bit sad to like a track by an artist that your Dad fancied over twenty years ago, but Kate Bush deserves your attention. In a era of identikit pop stars we should thank our lucky stars that Bush has come back from the abyss to grace us with her presence and with 'King of the Mountain' she doesn't disappoint. Five minutes of Bush's eerily beautiful voice and a windswept ethereal melody proves truly mesmerising. Simplistic in the extreme it may be, but a great comeback it is also.
Album Secrets Revealed: Kate Bush Track by Track
October 27, 2005
It's the album we, and more than likely you, have been waiting for: the new Kate Bush epic, 'Aerial'!
We've been forbidden from telling you about it until now, but, a few days ago, we were ushered into a secret room and allowed to listen to the whole darn thing. We took some notes, but the man who was pointing the big gun at us (in case we tried to steal the CDs) made our handwriting go all trembly.
This is what we could decipher...
'King of the Mountain'
You know how this one goes. It's the one about Elvis, yetis and Citizen Kane. And the one that had some of you going: "Oh it's pretty and everything but it's not quite as nuts as we were hoping for!" Well that's true, but it is much more than pretty, and is the perfect introduction to an album. Which, luckily, it is!
Pretty points: 7
A song about a man obsessed with Pi. Mmm, pie... Kate sings lots of numbers, our particular favourite being '59230781'. She's accompanied by a Greek chorus, hyperactive bass and pulsing organ. A bit odd.
Pretty points: 4
Isn't it funny how songs about people's kids are always rather good, whereas having to look at endless photos of said kids with Marmite smeared across their chops is one of the lesser levels of hell? This has an almost medieval lute thing going on and an instrument called a viol (which we suspect is a viola that's had a bit off). A beautiful, warm and carefully structured song, with frighteningly perfect vocals.
Pretty points: 9
Finally, a grand piano! This is about a washing machine and clothes on clothes lines looking like the people who wore them. Brilliant! We don't want to spoil things by saying this is our favourite so we'll just say it might be our favourite. There's still a long way to go.
Pretty points: 8
'How To Be Invisible'
A dark and brooding rock song during which Kate recites a spell for disappearing: "Hem of anorak, hair of doormat..." We've tried it though and it doesn't work.
Pretty points: 7
Is this the first song to be written about Joan of Arc since The Smiths' 'Bigmouth Strikes Again'? Write in and tell us. This has a similar feel to 'King Of The Mountain', but with added intense humming. We can't think of the last song with added intense humming. Write in and tell us.
Pretty points: 5
'A Coral Room'
A very slow piano number, almost as good as 'Under The Ivy' (which is very good indeed). Sung in part duet with Michael Wood and nicking the words to 'Little Brown Jug'. You'll know it when you hear it.
Pretty points: 10
And so endeth disc one. Disc two is not, as was previously rumoured, one very long prog rock epic but a collection of songs in their own right that tell the story of a painter - possibly. All linked by musical interludes that are mostly nuts.
The sound of half-collared doves (pigeons, basically) cooing what sounds like words and a child saying: "The day is full of birds. Sounds like they're saying words." He's not wrong!
Pretty points: 9
'An Architect's Dream'
It's bloody Rolf Harris! Rolf and Kate have been great mates ever since he blew his didgeridoo on 'The Dreaming' album. Here he's muttering: "Yes, I need to get that tone a little lighter there." Meanwhile, sensual washes of strings lap your ears.
Pretty points: 7
'The Painter's Link'
Rolf sings! And it's really rather lovely. "It's raining / What has become of my painting?" Clearly it's got wet. Oh no! He doesn't do that strange panting breathing that he used to do on 'Rolf's Cartoon Club' or use a wobble-board, but you can't have everything.
Pretty points: 8
Ah, classic Bush. Again. A delicate piano, a playful bass, that crystalline voice... Marvellous!
Pretty points: 8
'Somewhere In Between'
The pigeons are back! This sounds like it's going to go completely nuts but it doesn't. It goes a bit dub. And Kate uses the word 'twixt'. Mmm... Twix.
Pretty points: 7
We've looked at our notes, and for this one we scribbled "ambient but driving epic", so we reckon that's a pretty fair description. But we also remember it being a bit long and we found ourselves sucking the choccy off a complimentary jaffa cake. Mmm... complimentary jaffa cake.
Pretty points: 5
For the first time we go a bit uptempo and for the second time we go a bit rock. There are more birds, some mad laughter, instruments splashed about like paint (do you see?) and the line "I feel I gotta be up on the roof". And it's all over. Thirteen years of hurt (the doctor thinks it's RSI). Was it worth it? Yes it was.
Pretty points: 6
Thanks Kate. See you in 2018!
Kate Bush Slams Culture's 'Silly' Obsession With
by Scott Colothan
October 28, 2005
She's glad she's normal...
Kate Bush has slammed contemporary culture’s obsession with celebrity saying it is ‘silly’.
Bush says that she’s glad she has stayed out of the public eye for so long to live a “normal” life.
The 47-year-old told MOJO magazine: "For the last 12 years, I've felt really privileged to be living such a normal life. It's so a part of who I am. It's so important to me to do the washing, do the Hoovering.
“Friends of mine in the business don't know how dishwashers work. For me, that's frightening. I want to be in a position where I can function as a human being".
“A track called ‘Mrs Bartolozzi’ on the new album features a housewife drifting off into a dream world while watching her clothes rotate in a dryer.”
Sounds very interesting Kate!
Bush also admitted in the exclusive interview that 'King of the Mountain' was written nine years ago in 1996 and that other tracks on ‘Aerial’ date back to around 1992 when her last album was out.
Kate Bush talks
by Bill Overton
October 28, 2005
Prefers normal life to 'silly' celebrity culture
The new Kate Bush single is nine years old - she admits in an interview today that King Of The Mountain was written in 1996.
In fact several of the tracks on new album Aerial date from way back in the 12 year period since her last album, the Red Shoes, in 1993.
In her only one-to-one press interview Kate also says that she is frustrated by the rumour mill that paints her as "some kind of weirdo reclusive that never comes out into the world".
"Friends of mine in the business don't know how dishwashers work. For me, that's frightening." Kate Bush"I'm a very strong person and I think that's why actually I find it really infuriating when I read, 'She had a nervous breakdown' or 'she's not very mentally stable, just a weak, frail little creature'."
At 47, she has been signed to the same record label since her breakthrough with The Kick Inside and number one hit Wuthering Heights in 1978.
Aerial is her eighth studio album, a double-CD that is released on 7 November.
In the interview for MOJO magazine she contrasts her normal life as a young mother with today's "silly preoccupation with celebritites":
"For the last 12 years, I've felt really privileged to be living such a normal life. It's so a part of who I am. It's so important to me to do the washing, do the Hoovering.
Friends of mine in the business don't know how dishwashers work. For me, that's frightening. I want to be in a position where I can function as a human being".
A track called Mrs Bartolozzi on the new album features a housewife drifting off into a dream world while watching her clothes rotate in a dryer.
by Iain Moffat
November 3, 2005
(5 stars out of 5)
If a week is a long time in politics then twelve years in the
music industry is practically the seven ages of man and then some. And yet the
timing of Kate Bush's absurdly long-awaited comeback is impeccable: the
Futureheads have recently given her her biggest hit as a songwriter in two
decades, it's no great a leap of imagination to see her as essentially Alison
Goldfrapp's mum, and artists as diverse as The Streets and The Mars Volta have
made entire albums of sequential storytelling. Essentially, then, La Bush is
either a woman of exceptionally providential synchronicity or absolute genius.
As you can tell by those booming heads above, it would appear to be the latter.
Of course, it would be a naive soul that claimed she was ever lacking in ambition, but to come back with a double CD is a statement of no little boldness regardless. Moreover, it should come as no real shock to discover that CD1 - or, as she'd prefer to consider it, 'A Sea Of Honey' - is, in fairness, madder than a bumper box of frogs dislodged from its perch on a precarious hatstand. 'King Of The Mountain', which opens proceedings, you'll already be familiar with as the only comeback single in history to be a Bjork'n'Sade Celebrity Deathmatch on the subject of Elvis, but, quite frankly, terrific though it is, it's the stuff of Westlife compared to what else happens in its wake. For someone whose existence since '93 has made Morrissey between 'Maladjusted' and 'You Are The Quarry' appear to have the public profile of Kate Moss, to record a song called 'How To Be Invisible' is outrageously cheeky. Yet it's stunning regardless, combining spacious electronica, military drumming, properly dirty guitars and eccentric incantations into what proves to be one of this record's most accessible moments in spite of recalling her own, celebratedly difficult 'Get Out Of My House'. There's plenty more uniqueness besides: 'Mrs Bartolozzi', one of the most-discussed tracks here, is a gorgeously piano-driven and surprisingly epic marriage of the unsettlingly domestic and complexly carnal, 'Joanni' is a completely electronic and not-un-Vangelisesque reverie directed to a woman rich in mystery and dignity - not unlike its creator, if we're honest - and closing on some breathtaking whispery French added to some Muppet-like humming. Courtesy of some highly bubbly keyboards and a world of Mick Karny bass, 'Π' is incredibly moving for a song that's essentially built around the recitation of, unless we're mistaken, that selfsame figure to 109 decimal places (pretentious? Hell, no more than Spiritualized's glorious '100 Bars'!), and then there's 'Bertie', a paean to Bush Jr. that kicks off with a lute introduction, changes time signature (yes, there's a lot of that here), and ends up as a magnificent madrigal that'll leave Circulus feeling, for once, behind the times. As you might've gathered, there aren't exactly loads of records like this doing the rounds.
And then we get to 'A Sky Of Honey', or, more prosaically, CD2, which would seem to suggest that its other half is in fact a repository for all the spectacular songs Kate wrote that don't fit on this one. Not only is it a self-contained entity a la her previous 'The Ninth Wave', but it's rather more personally revelatory and singular of purpose than its counterpart. When the excellent 'The Red Shoes' came out, Terry Staunton's affectionate review in the NME posited the hope that, if the follow-up was inferior, it'd be because Bush was rather happier. So he at least will be profoundly chuffed to discover that not only is this every bit as ace, but she is in fact more joyful than we've ever known her. The nine tracks here blend into each other deliciously, focusing on what must amount to 24 hours in the life of a woman who's unafraid to dream but can see romance at every turn. Inevitably, the results are staggering, abetted by some of the richest vocals of her career and including some truly astounding material. 'Nocturn' is beauty incarnate, beginning as a widescreen, beatless and virtually choral hymn to escaping the strictures of society, while 'Somewhere In Between' is as close as she's come yet to drum'n'bass, awash with narcoleptic twinkle and swimming in 'West End Girls'-like keyboard atmospherics, to say nothing of the impossible romance of the arpeggio-heavy 'Prologue' or the ludicrously wonderful 'Sunset', which alludes to the Beatles' 'Blackbird' and spends a while as a torch song punctuated by manipulatively lachrymose cello before ultimately taking a bizarre left turn into beatific flamenco territory. None of which can quite compete with the spectacle of Kate cackling like an especially amused slattern or, indeed, the experience of Rolf Harris, playing the role of "The Painter", giving it his best Nick Cave, both of which also happen here. Lawks!
Quite what younger listeners will make of this is, admittedly, anyone's guess, but rare - actually, non-existent - is the album of hers you can't say that about, and yet she's continued to bewitch newcomers galore since the 70s. Heroically, she's delivered again; not only will those approaching afresh enjoy an incomparable hour and a half, but longtime Bush believers will find themselves treated to an intoxicatingly contemporary fusion of 'The Dreaming' and 'Hounds Of Love', which is more than anyone could've reasonably demanded. It's no coincidence that this starts with 'King Of The Mountain' and ends with the lyrics "up, up on the roof, in the sun"; 'Aerial' towers over the vast majority of even this year's embarrassment of riches, and, with it, Kate Bush proves herself not only increasingly influential but also enduringly imperial. Worth every day of the wait, and then some.
Barnes & Noble
by David Sprague
November 4, 2005
Letting more than a decade elapse between albums isn't usually advised, but on this 12-years-in-the-making set, Kate Bush proves herself as impervious as ever to the music world's changing sonic fashions and short attention spans. The double-disc Aerial is divided into two conceptually separate components, melding the ethereal and the earth-mother aspects of Bush's persona most engagingly, flitting around the edges of Red Shoes-styled rock, folk, and Celtic sounds without settling comfortably into any one niche. The first disc, subtitled "A Sea of Honey," is dominated by more accessible material, both melodically and topically -- from the piano-led "Mrs. Bartolozzi," an intricately woven tale that makes doing laundry seem like an exercise in erotica, to the pulsing "How to Be Invisible," which bluntly addresses the distaste for the spotlight that contributed to Bush's extended career hiatus. Such openness is par for the course here, whether Bush is moving toward the light, as on the medieval-sounding "Bertie," written for her young son, or dealing with the darkness, as on "A Coral Room," which revolves around the death of her mother. Disc 2, subtitled "A Sky of Honey," is more abstract but also decidedly more focused, given that it's intended to capture the passage of a day in the English countryside. Introduced by the sound of songbirds -- a device that's both quaint and fitting, given the bucolic music that follows -- the disc is unflaggingly upbeat lyrically, with melodies marked by a gentle rolling that suggests the hilly terrain of rural Britain. "Sunset," for instance, conveys an impression of waning daylight with a rhythm that stretches languidly, evoking memories of The Dreaming. The disc-closing title track, on the other hand, is the set's most buoyant, a bright-eyed greeting to a new day, which Bush approaches with guileless excitement. That's an ideal way to approach Aerial in general -- with the knowledge that something new and beautiful lurks beyond the next turn.
Amazon editorial review
by John Dilberto
November 4, 2005
It's often said that a musician's debut represents the culmination of a lifetime's worth of experiences, but their sophomore effort is usually derived from just the intervening year. By waiting 12 years between The Red Shoes and her new double CD, Aerial, Kate Bush has tried to regain that lifetime. It's a remarkably coherent recording, reflecting the unique world of sound and spirit Bush has inhabited since her debut. The first disc, subtitled A Sea of Honey, is a suite of personal reveries. It ranges from "King of the Mountain," a contemplation of unbridled celebrity and its isolation that references Elvis and Citizen Kane, to the piano-and-voice study "Mrs. Bartolozzi," an ode to household chores whose chorus is "Sloshy sloshy sloshy sloshy, get that dirty shirty clean." With its Depeche Mode-influenced synth pads, electro pulses, and lyric cadences, "King of the Mountain" is vintage Bush pop. But many of the songs attain more epic proportions, like the dynamic "Joanni," a hymn to Joan of Arc. It's the second disc--a suite called A Sky of Honey--on which Bush really comes into her own. Using metaphors of the turning of the day and the flight of birds, she orchestrates a meditation on the cycles of life. Musically expansive, she weaves her compositions out of birdsong, subtle orchestrations, and jazz trios, showing herself at her experimental best. Embracing her relatively new motherhood, as well as the death of her mother, Aerial is a deeply personal album, and a welcome return from one of pop music's true icons and vocal wonders.
[Note: John Diliberto interviewed Kate, and wrote several excellent magazine articles about her, including Musician and Keyboard magazines)
This is a masterpiece
by Darren Waters
November 6, 2005
After 12 years of waiting Kate Bush fans finally get their hands on an album of new material. A double album-sized helping of new songs should keep most fans happy with 16 tracks to delve into.
Disc one is a varied set of numbers which mainly centre around her private life, with odes to her son and a moving song about the loss of her mother. But at times these songs feel too personal and are hard to decipher with dense and difficult melodies. They encompasse a range of musical styles - from folk ("Bertie") to new age ("Pi") and classic Kate Bush ("How to be Invisible"). However, some of these tracks never really achieve lift-off and could have been left on the recording studio floor.
The Kate Bush of "Cloudbusting" and "Wuthering Heights"-fame is in there but struggles to get out. After the flatness of disc one, the second disc is full of surprises. It's an old-fashioned concept album that takes the listener on a journey. And what a journey! Bush has written a lyric poem set to music, which has an epic quality, transporting the listener to a deeply lush and fertile landscape. Lyrically cryptic, but strangely seductive, side two is the album Pink Floyd might have made in 1979 if Bush had been their lead singer.
Concept albums are not everyone's cup of tea - but this is a masterpiece.
by John Murphy
November 6, 2005
There aren't many artists who could get away with a 12 year break and come back from semi-retirement with an album that has grown men quivering with anticipation. Aeriel is undoubtedly an 'event', partly due to EMI's now compulsory security measures surrounding the release, but also because Bush's absence has only meant that our hearts have grown even fonder of her.
Aerial comes to us in two parts, and it's clear that this isn't an album to listen to on 'shuffle' on the iPod. The first disc, subtitled A Sea Of Honey, contains seven songs of an intensely personal nature, covering subjects such as her mother's death, the domestic routine of having a family, and, erm, mathematical formulae. The second disc, A Sky Of Honey, is that old fashioned beast - a concept album.
There are few people who could pull off a concept album, but as anyone who's heard the wonderful The Ninth Wave from Hounds Of Love will testify, Bush is one of the few who can. The conceptual piece follows a day's progress from the afternoon, through dusk and nighttime, onto sunrise. It also features Rolf Harris reprising his guest appearance on The Dreaming - all as per usual in the world of La Bush then.
Of the two discs, the A Sea Of Honey is the most accessible, but A Sky Of Honey is the more rewarding. The latter is designed to be listened to in one blissful sitting, allowing 41 minutes of beautifully atmospheric music to captivate you. The former is more conventional, although whether anything Kate Bush produces could accurately be described as conventional is a moot point.
The single King Of The Mountain opens the album, and it feels like an old friend coming home. There's a slight reggae lilt to the song, which mentions Elvis Presley and evokes Citizen Kane. It appears to be about the empty lives led by celebrities ("why does a multi-millionaire fill up his home with priceless junk" asks one line), and Bush's voice sounds as good as ever. It's a marvelous introduction to a complex, challenging album.
Bush has always walked a fine line between audaciousness and silliness, and here she slips into both, sometimes in the same song. A prime example of this is the beautiful Mrs Bartolozzi - a woman's ode to her new washing machine. One minute, she makes performing the daily wash sound like the most erotic thing on earth ("my blouse wrapping itself around your trousers"), then she descends into baby talk ("slooshy shoshy shooshy shoshy, get that dirty shirty clean"). Bizarrely, despite a repeated and seemingly endless refrain of "washing machine...washing machine", it still works beautifully.
Another highlight is Pi, which features Bush reciting the mathematical formula to 112 decimal places, and the almost poppy How To Be Invisible (and how much will that title by analysed by the Kate obsessives?). The declaration of love to her son, Bertie, despite some rather queasy lyrics, is nicely touching and sounds rather like a medieval waltz. She saves the best till last though with A Coral Room, a starkly beautiful tribute to her late mother, which sounds a distant relation to the heartbreaking A Woman's Work.
The second disc is quite simply a thing of beauty. It would be unfair to pick out any particular track, although the jazzy stylings of Sunset are particularly nice, and Bush manages to express her wonderment of nature just perfectly in Somewhere In Between: "We went to the top of the highest hill, and stopped still/It was so beautiful".
She even manages to get away with sequencing some bird songs and arranging them into a rather lovely tune on Aeriel Tal, although the less said about Rolf Harris' mercifully brief attempt at singing on The Painter's Link the better. Generally though, from the opening coos of the owl on Prelude right through to the dramatic rhythms of the excellent title track, this is Kate Bush at her very best.
Like all ambitious double albums, Aeriel is not without its flaws, but even Bush's moments of failure are much more interesting than those of her contemporaries. And when Aeriel works, which it does for the vast majority of the album, it sounds sweeter and more beautiful than anything else on earth. Let's just hope it doesn't take her another 12 years to make the next one.
Kate Bush: Mystery Maiden?
by Richard Ings
November 6, 2005
Kate Bush is back, 12 years since The Red Shoes, with a double album: Aerial.
Her record label, EMI, have treated the album's launch with the same absurd security as the latest releases by Coldplay and Robbie Williams. Advance review copies weren't available - for this was meant to be "an event".
Does Bush really live up to the hyped Mystery Maiden image? Is she the Stanley Kubrick of pop?
In the run-up to Aerial's launch, the press were full of stories about Kate Bush. She was depicted as a strange, reclusive star who refuses to play the traditional PR game.
And there will, as ever, be the one interview where she expresses her perplexity at how she is so utterly misconceived as an ethereal, other-worldly goddess who, like some mysterious deity, comes to visit us as irregularly as a minor comet: album five in 1985, album six in 1989, album seven in 1993 and now Aerial in 2005.
For a persistent researcher, it's not too difficult a task to understand that Kate is not quite what she is perceived to be. Time after time, she has uttered the same amazement at how far her reputation precedes her and how little it resembles her. "People have (a preconception) of me as a sort of big Bronte fan, a Tolkien fan, the pre-Raphaelite lady," she told VH1 in 1989, "which I think is actually a very big misconception." In 1983 she said "if people look at the album covers and buy the records then listen to them and perhaps read the lyrics then a lot of this mystery about me will fade."
Her rare interviews consistently reveal a woman who is more earthy than ethereal. This always seems out of kilter with the perception of her as an alabaster beauty who floats just above the ground, probably in that red dress she wore in the Wuthering Heights video.
She is no stranger to using the language of the gutter. Of the infamous Gered Mankowitz portrait of her in a leotard, which caused traffic havoc by being placed on the back of London buses, she told the NME: "I suppose the poster is reasonably sexy just because you can see my tits". Well, quite. To the Record Mirror, she once said: "Some lyrics take a long time to come, others just come out like diarrhoea ." Charming. "If you're writing a song... then you have a responsibility to (the fans). It's important to give them a positive message (which) is far more effective than having a wank and being self-pitiful." Lovely.
Her fear of the press and how she has been misinterpreted, and her protectiveness about her privacy, has led her to a long-held position that she prefers the music to speak for itself, and declines to give personal details in interviews because she's there to talk about the music. But, reflecting on this in RAW magazine in 1989, she revealed how much this has actually worked in her favour. It is worth quoting her in full:
"I went through a period where I didn't actually speak to anyone (in the press) at all. Or if I did, I was very careful about when I did it and who I spoke to. And I think two very positive and interesting things came out of that...
"Firstly, I think I achieved what I wanted...suddenly my music started speaking for me instead of this personality whom the press had tremendous preconceptions about anyway. And through that, I think people took my music more seriously.
"And, secondly, it created this sense of mystery about what I did; I think that helped a lot as well with the way people were ready to receive my music."
What this suggests is that Bush is acutely aware of how keeping quiet actually enhanced her reputation as a musician. The public and more particularly her fanatical followers love to know what they cannot find out. Hence her refusal to tour since the rock pantomime of 1979 has taken on comparable mythological status to awaiting the Second Coming. Yet it has nothing to do with Bush being reclusive and shy which is the reputation it has garnered.
Reading between the lines of what she has said about touring being exhausting and that she is not being happy being herself on stage, preferring to play the characters she has invented for the song, it seems clear that she cannot commit to doing anything by halves. Like taking twelve years to finish an album, for example.
Indeed, Bush has said that part of the problem she has is that she is afraid to let something go and be publicly apprised in case it falls on their approbation. She told You magazine in 1989 that "it's very hard to stand back from an album, allow it to be finished and then let people evaluate it for what it is. It's a terrifying process for me. And consequently making the album in the first place gets harder and harder for me."
The public and the press like to believe the myth that Kate is a Howard Hughes-like genius who makes occasional forays into the world of mere mortals, like a tooth fairy leaving a pound. It would be rude to suggest that she cultivates this, and her candour when she is interviewed suggests that she could easily reveal something personal she had not intended to. EMI, with the security around Aerial at a maximum before its release, will not be hurt by the hype about the return of the mysterious Bush. But is the excitement reserved for new Kate Bush material justified by her historical output?
The evidence is mixed. For every pounding Hounds of Love, there's a pompous Army Dreamers, and for every sensual Kick Inside, an unintentionally hilarious Dreaming complete with sheep noises. You may disagree about where the unevenness lies, but it is still there.
Her latest single, King of the Mountain, which takes Bush's most successful songwriting formula of layering riffs and rhythms upon one another in increasing intensity over the course of five minutes, is accompanied by the cheesiest video ever which actually tells us more about the meaning behind the song than we really want to know.
When Bush grounds her musical electricity visually, it often loses much of its spark. Cloudbusting is a sensual delight of looping string phrases which builds through her trademark drum sounds and floating, chorus-light melodic flow to an intense conclusion. The video, on the other hand, is an ambitious piece of kitsch.
In a sense, there is a tension between the Kate Bush we think we want (the one who gives us an album a year, tours constantly and tells all about her private life to Word magazine) and the Kate Bush we actually need. While the mythologising is not of Bush's doing (except insofar as she realises its artistic fringe benefits), it sustains her in the public's mind as an isolated genius whose wisdom and creativity are barely worthy of us.
I must confess: I too love the myth. Aged eight, I heard the dramatic beauty of The Man With the Child in his Eyes and fell in love. Later, when I learned how young she had been when she wrote the song (16), my frustrated teenage sexuality yearned for similarly aged young women who might have such sensual maturity. And her ability to stay true to an artist's vision (except on, in my view, misconceived forays into politics such as Breathing) has meant that she has dodged bullets around incest and implied paedophilia in her songs. As she herself has said, she's glad that The Sun doesn't (or can't) read her lyrics.
I have bored people silly at parties with my passion for the woman who has added music to poetry and, possibly more importantly, created some of the most heartbreaking melodies ever written (Moments of Pleasure is a particular gem). Freak or unique, she has never been less than sum of her parts.
Much as she may not wish to accept it, her Celtic looks, eccentric sexual persona and that picture of her tits in a leotard means that she has a power over certain heterosexual men that is difficult to avoid. As Johnny Rotten said, at the Q awards a few years ago when she received a lifetime achievement award, "I love you, your music is @#%$ brilliant." I know exactly how he feels.
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds