One of pop music’s most successful recluses releases an album almost out of the blue, there is little that can provide a guide as to what to expect – except to hope that the lavish drama, sweetly soaring vocals and her off kilter approach to music has flourished during her absence. ‘Aerial’ comes as a two disk set and it was with burning curiosity and high expectations that I set about listening.
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Starting with ‘A Sea Of Honey’, as the first disk is titled, I am eased into ‘King Of The Mountain’. I am pleased that the theatricality and rich production remain, there is a gentle rocking beat and reggae guitars that accompany Kate as she purrs and cries deliciously. There is a curious tempo to ‘Pi’ there is plenty of space around to begin with, slowly filled by gently strummed guitars, vocal styles and keyboards devoted to a man at home with numbers. It, I have to say, gets a bit strange around the chorus which is Pi sang to thirty decimal places. In ‘Bertie’ we travel back in time as the song appears to be based around a medieval theme and instruments. There is a simplicity here, in keeping with the music, lends a simple purity to the track that is refreshing. We are back on more familiar, and recent, ground for ‘Mrs Bartolozzi’ although the awkward analogy of household chores, romantic beach encounters and the repeated refrain of ‘Washing Machine, Washing Machine’ is strangely unsettling. As a result, the upward change in tempo and reassuringly light rock of ‘How To Be Invisible’ is very welcome. This track, blending electronic sounding guitars, a metronomic beat and a catchy lyrical flow is a delicious reminder of her past works without being a carbon copy. There is a flavour of Ibiza chillout on the next number, ‘Joanni’, as Kate sings with a wavering intensity and euphoric upward sweeps. To end, ‘A Coral Room’ leads in with delicate and evocative piano beneath frail and saddened words reminiscent of Tori Amos. A beautiful closure to this half of ‘Aerial’.
The second CD, ‘A Sky Of Honey’, begins with a prelude of Virginia Astley style pastoral sounds (which feature all through this disk) and a child’s voice before a tense pulse leads us to Kate Bush’s fabulous voice again in ‘Prologue’. The balance of an expectant tone in the vocals, the sweet piano and bass with the grandness of the production builds up unexpectedly to a feeling of serenity. ‘An Architect’s Dream’ begins with (fantastically) the great Rolf Harris describing and painting before leading into another classic Kate Bush song, only rendered more gently. ‘The Painter’s Link’, again featuring Rolf (singing this time), acts as a brief and sweet interlude that runs directly into ‘Sunset’. ‘Sunset’ rolls along with a light guitar jazz and the occasional unusual emphasis that catches the ear very effectively. The closing section of ‘Sunset’ takes a Spanish turn and becomes intricate with the interplay of all the instruments but avoids becoming busy or messy perfectly. There is another brief excursion in the strange sounds of ‘Aerial Tal’ before ‘Somewhere In Between’ launches into a tale of wonder at nature’s beauty, continuing the theme of ‘Sunset’. As night is upon is, ‘Nocturn’ has an appropriate feel of mystery as it displays a reverence for the midsummer moon with grand intensity and a dark undertone. The seamless move into the album’s title track leads to a ever growing intensity, a relentless throbbing bass and guitars, bringing ‘Aerial’ to a close triumphantly.
Where ‘ A Sea Of Honey’ is a album of moments and is troubled at times there is always ‘A Sky Of Honey’ to turn to and relax. ‘Aerial’ is a wonderfully balanced album that is a delight to hear.
Label : EMI
Release Date : 07 November 2005
Website : www.katebush.com
Disk One – A Sea Of Honey
Disk Two – A Sky Of Honey