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Kate Bush - Aerial CD (album) cover


Kate Bush


Crossover Prog

3.78 | 229 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Twelve years in the making, released when most fans (including myself) had already lost hope of ever seeing another Kate Bush album, "Aerial" had all the ingredients of a huge disappointment - especially as its predecessor, "The Red Shoes", had actually been one. The news leaked over the Internet, however, pointed to something more than promising - a double album, with one of the two sides dedicated to a 'concept' in the tradition of 1985's "Hounds of Love".

So, was "Aerial" worth the wait? On my part, the answer is: absolutely. Together with the above-mentioned "Hounds of Love", this is possibly Kate's masterpiece - an elegant, sophisticated yet emotional album filled with fascinating, multifaceted music, intriguing lyrics and stunning vocal performances from one of the greatest singer- songwriters in rock. Kate's trademark, haunting sensuality is still present: however, the songs are not so much based on love and passion as on Kate's personal experiences of the past years, above all the life-changing experience of motherhood - wonderfully immortalised by the lovely, medieval-tinged "Bertie", a moving tribute to her 'sunshine'. The album opener (released as a single a couple of months before), "King of the Mountain", dedicated to the myth of Elvis Presley, is Kate at her best, her passionate vocals emoting over a background of electronic percussion and keyboards. On the intriguing "Pi", Kate's voice manages to make a list of numbers sound utterly fascinating; while on "Joanni", dedicated this time to the iconic character of Joan of Arc, her voice is pitched lower to suit the darker mood of the song. My personal favourite on Side One (titled "A Sea of Honey") are "Mrs Bartolozzi", where the simple, everyday act of doing the washing becomes a metaphor for starting over again after having been abandoned by a man. Kate's singing, accompanied by a haunting piano melody, is heartbreakingly poignant. "How to Be Invisible", another very personal song about Kate's desire to avoid the public eye, is the album's rockiest track, featuring electric guitar and a strong backing rythm; while the closing "A Coral Room", dedicated to Kate's mother (who died before the release of "The Red Shoes"), is haunting and rarefied, so intimate one almost feels like an intruder while listening to it.

On Side Two ("A Sky of Honey") the songs are longer and more structured, and they blend into each other with ease to form a harmonious whole. It starts with Bertie's voce over Kate's delicate piano, then flows into the lyrical, romantic "Prologue", accompanied by Michael Kamen's orchestra and featuring some lyrics in Italian as well, sung by Kate with a movingly comic accent. The two following tracks, "An Architect's Dream" and "The Painter's Link", continue in much the same vein; after that, things get a bit more lively with "Sunset" and "Somewhere in Between", with beautiful vocal harmonies and a light, airy feeling which reflects the content of the lyrics. The two closing tracks, the disco-tinged yet haunting "Nocturn" and the rousing title-track, with its almost military rythm, seem to merge in a crescendo of intensity, peppered with sound effects like birdsong and Kate's laughter.

The stylish packaging of the album, with its honey-hued cover and booklet containing all sorts of gorgeous images - including a beautiful portrait of Kate itself - deserves a mention as well, since it is part of "Aerial"'s attraction. Needless to say, the musicianship is outstanding: besides Kate's long-time collaborators like brother Paddy, drummer Stuart Elliott and bassist Del Palmer, there are contributions from Procol Harum's Gary Brooker, on backing vocals and Hammond organ, and 10cc's Lol Creme, also on backing vocals. In brief, one of the very best releases of 2005, and a triumphal return to form for one of rock's most creative and sensitive musicians - highly recommended.

Raff | 5/5 |


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