Current listening: Kate Bush “Lyra”

I am a self confessed Kate Bush devotee. Not just because of her music which is delicious (more of which later), but because she is her own woman and doesn’t subscribe to the music industry bullshit that near enough everybody else follows, no matter how free spirited and independent they appear to be or would like to be. Yes, she wants to reach as wide an audience as possible, but on her own terms and without subscribing to the merry go round of marketing bollocks that is today the norm. She is an artist and not a creator of “product”. There seems to me to be a widespread cynicism these days when the word “artist” is used as if this was something to be ridiculed and vilified. A kind of “Who are they trying to kid, they just want to sell units” attitude which I hate when it is so clearly unjustified (Although such instances these days are sadly few and far between).  There was hardly any promotion in relation to her last album Aerial – one interview with a monthly music magazine and a couple of radio interviews. I loved the moment being questioned by Mark Radcliffe about promoting her records when she responded “Marketing ?!” in the best “What in god’s name are you talking about man, my job is not about marketing, it’s about creating something worthwhile” tone. She must drive EMI mad – and good for her.

Anyhow, her music.  She is a true individual and with each record manages to create something which I believe no-one else could have come up with. And I don’t think there are many artists you can say that about. She has a disregard for sticking with standard subject matter and for any rules whatsoever really but still, rather than testing the limitations of ones eardrums or tolerance, manages to come up with beautiful haunting or stimulating pieces of music. I suspect that her last record Aerial from 2005 will still be my favourite of the noughties come the end of the decade. I return to it again and again. Who else writes love songs to mathematicians and songs about Joan of Arc next to songs about the beauty to be found in the humble domestic chores of cleaning and washing, and in  birdsong and sunsets.  A huge improvement on her early nineties effort The Red Shoes which in my book has been her only real failure as a whole record. Some of the tracks on there were wonderful but collectively there was too much going on and the songs  were really not all up to scratch. On Aerial she seems relaxed, at peace with herself, and it is a much more organic understated and traditional sounding record. She manages to mix the domestic with the universal wonderfully which is as it should be and she comes across as a wonderful humanist. Its a really positive record but without being cloying or sickly or dull – it delights in the variety of life and us and the world and sounds like opening the windows on a bright spring morning with infinite possibilities for the rest of the day.  

482 words and I still haven’t mentioned this song. It’s from the new film “The Golden Compass” (True title: Northern Lights. Thank you North America) and was written and recorded recently and apparently very quickly to be played over the closing title credits of the film. The gap between the Red Shoes and Aerial was considerable and therefore finding out that Kate Bush had recorded a new song so soon after Aerial caused great excitement in my small world. And it doesn’t disappoint. Understated, managing to be epic but without being bombastic, and intimate at the same time (How I don’t know) it’s a very simple song, with orchestral and choral backing. I have been listening to it for a few days now and, as is the case with Aerial two years on, I am still not bored.


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