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Kate Bush - The Dreaming CD (album) cover

THE DREAMING

Kate Bush

 

Crossover Prog

4.13 | 318 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Putting herself in total control of her 4th studio, full-length album, Kate Bush created her most progressive album, and actually ended up putting herself further into the public eye, although it took some time for it to totally catch on. But, just like the best progressive albums, it started out with a lot of critical panning, but evolved into what many would consider the pinnacle of her career.

It is interesting, however, that it really isn't a concept album, but the songs on it all have deep meaning and Kate wanted to make sure everything was done to perfection, or as close to it as possible. Along with her, she recruited several other musicians to help out and appear throughout the album while, for the most part, she took the lead on all of the vocals, piano and synths, programming and electronic percussion. Everything else was done by other musicians, including her brother Paddy Bush, Geoff Downes, David Gilmour, Del Palmer, and scores of others. Yet, through it all, she kept control. It took two years to get it all right, and Bush had to even take a short break from it at times when she encountered writer's block, which apparently happened often.

Of course, Bush was known for being an experimental musician, but this one was the most experimental of all, and the fans and critics were hesitant to give it the love it deserves. Now, however, it is considered one of her best and has found it's way to many critic's best of lists and also become a favorite and influential of many musicians, including Bjork.

The album starts off with it's first single 'Sat in Your Lap' which was actually released long before the album was close to being done, 15 months before in fact. The song originally had an additional verse that was left off of the finished track, and it was also changed slightly for the album, making the vocals a little higher to fit in with the rest of the album. It is quite an upbeat and percussive track with lyrics that deal with the quest for knowledge through others. Of course, the attention is given to Bush's dynamic vocals as her range and variation of sound is as amazing as usual and the use of unconventional styles and structure definitely goes against the grain of any standard song. All through the song, you can hear Downes contribution of the trumpet effects that back up the track.

'There Goes a Tenner' follows and has an almost reggae beat that hints more towards a ragtime sound. The song deals with amateur burglers and their fears when they try for the big time with a serious crime. This track was also a single, but it failed to chart. 'Pull Out the Pin' features David Gilmour on background vocals and deals with the Vietnam war. Utilizing less drums and more unpredictable percussion and sound effects, this track tends to take on a more symphonic style with plenty of dramatic flair. It is quite the progressive masterpiece. One of the more accessible tracks on the album 'Suspended in Gaffa' was also released as a single and did end up charting. Even being considered more accessible, it still has a nice swinging feeling which Kate accents with her high-counter-melody that whirls around playfully and repetitively over the main lower register vocal melody. All the while, Bush's piano marks the rhythmic passage in place of drums while an assortment of strings support. The first half ends with 'Leave it Open' with Kate's main vocals heavily manipulated giving an eerie sound with contrasting higher and softer vocals with lower male vocals occasionally singing. The electgronic effects contrast with the strings and other traditional instruments. Odd, yet intriguing.

The 2nd half commences with the title track 'The Dreaming' which uses a jig style track mixed with experimental and traditional effects. The subject matter deals with the problems native Australians deal with, and the rhythm reflects a tribal sound, and layers of chanting-style vocals come and go in the background. Again, there is a twisting of electronics and traditional music. The breathing sounds made in this song were later used by Depeche Mode in the song 'Personal Jesus'. It all ends in a Celtic sounding coda that runs into 'Night of the Swallow', which has a mostly Irish style to it, again with the addition of traditional instruments and help from The Chieftains and Planxty. It is mostly slow and quiet, but it builds in intensity as it goes on adding in layers of traditional Irish instrumentation. 'All the Love' is quite atmospheric and complex with heavy bass and Kate's pastiche of vocal textures. 'Houdini' musically tells the attempts of Houdini's wife to talk to her deceased husband. This follows in the same style as the previous track, slow and soft with some dramatic passages, and again featuring Kate's endless vocal tricks while accompanied mostly by bass and piano, and later with lush strings. 'Get Out of My House' is inspired by Stephen King's 'The Shining'. This one has a strong beat in contrast to the last two tracks with guest vocalists taking character parts while a complex melody complete with counter melodies continue. Definitely an eerie and threatening track.

Although this is a perfect progressive album, the one place that it lacks is in its accessibility. It takes some time to get used to it, and, for a while, it may leave the listener struggling to connect with it. Hopefully, the short explanations of some of the tracks will help it to sink in a little better, otherwise, it tends to leave one a bit confused about its strange antics and what not. But even if you don't know the stories behind the tracks, the album does grow on you, and Bush's talent cannot be denied even if it doesn't. This album still easily reaches 5 stars, especially as an influential progressive and experimental album, however, Kate's next album 'Hounds of Love' would even be better, and ended up being a perfect album, combining accessibility, at least in most of the first half, with progressive ingenuity and intelligence. 'The Dreaming' on the other hand, is an album that is definitely worthy of being called its apt predecessor.

TCat | 5/5 |

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