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Kate Bush - Aerial CD (album) cover

AERIAL

Kate Bush

 

Crossover Prog

3.81 | 232 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
5 stars After taking a long break from touring and recording, Kate Bush returned with this excellent double album. Sounding nothing like her previous album 'The Red Shoes', or really any of her other albums, this album shows mostly her strengths of songwriting and composition. For the most part, it is quite ambient, some songs with rhythm and some are just Kate and a piano. The real center of this album is Kate's beautiful and unique voice, and just like before, she has all kinds of vocal tricks up her sleeve.

Kate wanted to do a double album where each album focused on 2 different things. The first record is called 'A Sea of Honey' where each song is about a different person. The first one is an up-tempo song about Elvis and wondering what kinds of things he would be thinking about if he is alive somewhere out there. This was the only single to be released off this album, and it is also the oldest song on the album, written a few years before, but Kate never felt comfortable with it until now. 'Pi' is a mid tempo song with Kate singing in a dreamy yet surprisingly dynamic voice about a mathematician who has a fixation on numbers. The amazing thing is when she sings the endless number that represents Pi, and how she does it with so much emotion, like someone that actually has this personal attachment to numbers. This is something only Kate could do. 'Bertie' is about Kate's son, who was kept secret until Peter Gabriel spilled the beans to a reporter. This is an emotional and personal song. Her son was one of the main reasons why Kate took such a long sabbatical, she wanted to be involved in her son's life. The next song is 'Mrs. Bartolozzi' is a beautiful and emotional song about a fictional woman who basically has not much of a life, that when she washes her clothes, she stares into the washer and imagines it is a huge sea with waves crashing around. This turns into a romantic fantasy of sorts that is very sad that a washing machine is the one thing that takes her away from her mundane existence. This song is just Kate and a piano, but there is so much depth to this one that it is all you need.

'How to Be Invisible' is one of my favorites. It has a good beat to it, yet it stays slightly subdued. There is also a great guitar hook throughout the song that drives it forward. A very beautiful melody and catchy. Some have accused Kate of copying Radiohead's song 'How to Disappear' from 'Kid A', because both songs are about a book who's subject is disappearing. Kate said that if she had known that, she wouldn't have written the song, so I am personally glad she didn't know it. One of her biggest fears is writing a song that sounds like someone else's. The song is about a person that wants to become invisible. 'Joanni' is a mid tempo song about Joan of Arc. This one hasn't really phased me much yet, but it is a little more complicated, so I will give it time. Last of all on this half of the album, is 'A Choral Room', which is a portrait of Kate's mother and memories of her up to and including her death. This one is very personal and you feel Kate's love and heartache in her voice. This one is also just Kate and a piano, with a short interlude sung by Michael Wood.

The second record is entirely a suite of songs called 'An Endless Sky of Honey' which is about any day following the movement of light and birds. It starts off with a 'Prelude', which is the sounds of birds with synths and piano and Kate's son Bertie reciting a short spoken word passage. This follows into 'Prologue' and moves immediately to the afternoon. This one is mostly Kate's voice and a piano, but the difference between this one and the minimal tracks on the first record is this one is much more structured. 'An Architect's Dream' has a mid tempo beat driven by what sounds like bongos, but very softly. Keyboards and synths provide the instrumental background. It talks about an artist working (inspired by the painting 'Fishermen') and how the lines in the painting are like an architect's dream. 'The Painter's Link' is a short interlude where time moves into late afternoon and the painter's painting gets washed into a picture to streams of color. 'Sunset' is more of a soft jazzy number. In this one, the painter's colors transform into the sunset. The music builds into a faster rhythm, keeping with the jazz feel. Very nice. 'Ariel Tal' is another short interlude with birdsong and Kate starts to mimic the sound through wordless vocals as if she is talking to the birds. Even if it may sound corny on the surface, I love this carefree sound. 'Somewhere In Between' is everything you love about Kate Bush's music. Nice, lush instrumentation and Kate's beautiful voice. This one is my favorite on this part of the album. Gary Brooker is doing the male vocals here. The day moves into twilight as Kate reminisces about a romantic encounter. This one is simply beautiful.

The next track is 'Nocturn', which means we have reached nighttime. Kate and her lover go driving to the beach and spend the night swimming. This one seems less structured at first, but moves into a mid tempo with a driving rhythm. From the lyrics in this song and throughout the suite, Kate paints everything, every scene, just like a painting through her words. That is the main strength of this track especially as she treats the experience as a painting come to life. There is an instrumental section and then the sun starts to rise as the lovers realize they have spent the entire night there. The light climbs up an aerial and the reflection is blinding and the dreamers are waking. Next comes the title track 'Aerial'. The song builds with a driving rhythm as Kate wishes to climb up high with the sun and the birds. She starts mimicking the birds again and singing wordless vocals and laughing, expressing joy and excitement of a new day and the beauty of life and birdsong. Soon and instrumental section begins, percussion drives to Kate's vocals again. She makes us all want to be up on the roof, and soon after guitar and keyboards have an interlude again, a sampled chorus joins her on the roof.

This is an amazing album from an amazing talent, one of her absolute best. If you missed out on this one, then you need to get it for it's beauty and its progressive sound. Like I said before, it is mostly ambient, but it also has some surprisingly driving melodies also. Nothing is formulaic as far as traditional songwriting and singing goes. However, it is very accessible, but never predictable. The first record of the double album is probably more loose and improvisational sounding, where as the second record is more structured, but almost all of it has that ambient feeling to it, which only drives the beauty of it all. This is a must have for progressive rock lovers, especially for Kate Bush fans. It is an amazing album that never gets tiring. You will grow to love it more as you get more familiar with it also. 5 glowing stars for this one.

TCat | 5/5 |

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