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Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love CD (album) cover

HOUNDS OF LOVE

Kate Bush

 

Crossover Prog

4.17 | 465 ratings

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DominicS
5 stars I find it hard to understand the prog fans out there that would take the view against Kate Bush being a prog artist, merely and falsely accusing her of being just a successful pop artist. Her masterpiece album 'Hounds of Love' cannot be unfairly called a pop album; of course, there are the hits of the album that hit the charts on its release. However, the album does more than just present the listener with a series of popular hits; it takes the listener on a complex musical journey that demands our full attention.

The first side of the album obviously presents fewer progressive qualities as it features the two hits of the album: 'Running Up that Hill' and 'Hounds of Love'. While being successful as pop songs, catchy and lyrical, there are still interesting musical features that make the songs exciting to listen to. In 'Hounds of Love', for example, there is much rhythmic complexity between individual parts almost making it polyrhythmic. Features like these separate the average, generic pop songs from the pop songs that attempt to be different and unique ' Kate Bush is an expert in spicing up the average pop song. 'Mother Stands for Comfort' is the least pop-like on this side of the album, presenting a complex listen of interweaving parts that dip in and out of the song. What really stands out here is the double bass, every ornament is allowed to shine throughout the song, and it is utterly gorgeous. My favourite song from this side of the album is 'Cloudbusting', the strong pulse and march like rhythm drives the song which offers a warm contrast to the previous rhythmic complexities in the other songs. Furthermore, the fact that it is very repetitive and heavily string dominant doesn't deter me as a listener as the string motifs never seem to become tedious. While this side of her album is not entirely prog heavy, she certainly moulds prog influences on her pop songs in order to make them stand out from the other chart-topping hits ' and the result is a set of very intelligent and thought-provoking songs.

The second side of her album is where she pushes her musicality to the limit, infusing a much stronger prog influence into her writing, and resulting in a musical journey called 'The Ninth Wave'. Its concept is about someone drifting alone in the sea at night, trying to keep themselves awake in order to survive drowning. Bush communicates the tranquillity of being alone in the sea through songs such as 'And Dream of Sheep', which is extremely soothing and atmospheric, reflecting how easy it would be to fall asleep in the calm of the sea. Yet a song such as 'Waking the Witch' is much more menacing; in fact, it is my favourite song on this side of the album for both its musical qualities and its meaning in the concept of the suite. Musically, the harmony of the piano chords is utterly gorgeous in the beginning and coupled with the delay effect, reflects the vastness of the water. In terms of the songs meaning, the idea of the person in the concept being tested as a witch by 'swimming' is such a clever and meaningful idea, especially in an era where women were still being 'drowned' by the power of men. My other highlight from this side of the album comes from 'Hello Earth' in which this person in the water can look up at the stars, that look down on the earth and can see the person in the water. It's the vocal sample in the song that really hits me, it is harmonically rich and stripped back, offering the listener something completely different and ghostlike. The variation, musically, in this suite is never-ending and I find myself hearing new things every time I listen to it. This, along with ideas such as the ice freezing over your drowned body ('Under Ice') and being able to see your family and friends as a spirit after death ('Watching You Without Me'), leaves me in a state of awe and shock as I try to absorb the sheer beauty and complexity of Kate Bush's writing not just as a musician but as a storyteller.

This whole album represents a different kind of prog that listeners are not used to hearing. Bush rejects having long and intense sections of complex soloing and shows of technical accuracy that bands such as Yes and King Crimson often display. In this album, Bush instead prefers to place her listeners in an atmospheric soundscape, making every single musical feature reflect the clever concept of the second side of the album. It really forces me to think and to think hard about what I am listening to and what it means ' this is the sort of prog that shouldn't be so easily belittled as this album has had such a powerful effect on me. What tops off this gem of an album is Bush's voice; not only is it one of the most iconic voices to ever grace the planet but it is unique and cannot be ever copied. All in all, I'd say this is one of the most intelligent prog albums to be written.

DominicS | 5/5 |

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