Monday, July 9, 2007

From the archives: following up on Kate Bush

This is reprinted from a post from my live journal, dating May 5, 2006

For some reason, alternative British musician Kate Bush reminds me of experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, not just as a result of a somewhat striking physical resemblance, but the from what I've seen of Deren's Meshes in the Afternoon (1943), thematical similarities as well. So it was that sthemingway's post with the story reminded me of Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1929) and she brought up Maya Deren, and I remembered Kate Bush, and then I began to wonder what was up with her now. I check periodically every several months to see if there is any news from this brilliant, but very reclusive songstress. Much to my surprise, Kate had indeed recently released a new album, entitled Aerial, marking her first new musical foray in 12 years since The Red Shoes.

I love Kate Bush. I don't own all her albums, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because her songs can be patchy, but when she's good, she's absolutely brilliant. The Hounds of Love is one of my favourite records ever, probably second ONLY to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (this is understandable). The story goes that Bush was a protege of Pink Floyd's, in particular of David Gilmour, and that they helped bring her onto the British scene. Her U.S. commercial success was not so great and she goes unheard of here, minus some radioplay of "Running Up That Hill" in the 1980s and of "This Woman's Work" because it was on the soundtrack for that movie "She's Having a Baby." However, in London, I still hear the original version of "Wuthering Heights" and even "The Kick Inside" on the radio from time to time, and no doubt she ranks pretty high up there among 'best female musicians.' Sarah MacLachlan and Tori Amos owe quite a lot to her, as they have indicated.

I need a whole other post to talk about The Hounds of Love. It's a concept album; by then, concept albums weren't anything new. Pink Floyd themselves helped pioneer it with the just as brilliant, though not a favourite, The Dark Side of the Moon. However, what a concept album The Hounds of Love is. It's a 2-part album, with the second half a mystical journey through the mind of a woman who is drowning.

But back to Aerial. It's lovely and it's very soft. It's probably her best effort since The Hounds of Love and certainly her most thematically coherent. It's a thought piece on the cycles of life. While I loved individual songs on The Sensual World a lot more, that record was all over the place. No song on here is as good as that title track; however, as a whole, it's remarkable. Kate Bush's piano playing is rich & lovely to listen to among the sparse instrumental arrangements. My only hope is that Kate does not wait another 12 years to release a followup.

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