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“Very self-indulgent”: Strange Things Are Happening

David Flint doesn’t (yet) like Kate’s new album. But then he does describe Aerial as “two CD’s worth of generally forgettable music” so perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath:

I reserve the right to completely change my mind about 50 Words for Snow, in whole or part, on subsequent listens. For now though, I can’t match the predictable gushing from other writers … the problem with the album as a whole – it feels very self-indulgent, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, when you combine that with the remarkably one-dimensional nature of the music here, it’s just too much … There isn’t a single song with any kind of hook. Stripped of vocals, it’d probably make a decent soundtrack album. But it sorely misses the incredible, infectious, left-field pop that made Bush a household name … But this is by no means a bad album. It’s just not good enough.

Writer Aimee Bender on ‘A Coral Room’




Writer Aimee Bender was asked by Granta Magazine to choose five songs or pieces of music which are important to her, and which bring back particularly salient memories. Her fifth choice was Kate’s ‘A Coral Room’ from Aerial. From Granta Online:

Aimee Bender

“Well. I remembered this last night at one a.m, lying in bed, thinking of the assignment, going over CDs in my mind. It is the most profound song about memory and loss, and how memory works, and the way it sweeps over us, and how elusive it is, that I’ve ever heard. As with many of her songs, only after multiple listenings did it kick in for me. It’s an elegy to her mother, but with the first line – ‘there is a city, draped in net’ – it feels like she is trying to actually articulate the process of living at once in memory and the present, and how the two collide. It is really, really, not fun pub music at all! but it is a masterpiece of a song. The city, and the spider – they are first characters in a dream world, in the land of symbols, of myth, but then later they change, they become firm and strong, grounded with specific items, in a moment, in a life, and with that move, we are hammered down by the finality of loss. Kate Bush has many unbelievable songs, but this, one of her most recent, is as good as any that came before.”

Aerial news round-up

The King of The Mountain video, and Aerial TV ads can be seen at – Kate’s excellent official website…the heavyweight double vinyl release of Aerial was released just before Christmas 2005, it comes with the stunning big 24-page booklet…the Aerial sheet music has been issued more info here…to the bafflement of many, Kate’s new album was not nominated for the Mercury Music prize in the UK…

Japanese reissues released in UK and Aerial sheet music out now

Hello all, we’re sure you are all still immersed in the Aerial album like everyone else, for an update on this website’s activities since the album release please read the forum posting (from Bfenby) . We still have no news of a second single so as usual, watch this space! In the meantime Kate’s first 7 albums were re-issued in Japan last year and will be available on import in the UK & Ireland from March 13th 2006 (please note that these are NOT the re-mastered re-issues that we’ve been awaiting from EMI UK, these are just very nicely repackaged CDs made to look like the original vinyl versions, with inserts etc). The sheet music to Kate’s new album Aerial has been released in the UK – more info here. All the very latest Kate Bush news mentions can be found in our busy forum’s Medialog section. The huge online Kate Bush resource Gaffaweb is now being continually updated with all Aerial-related articles, reviews and interviews etc, be sure to check it out. Kate’s official site is now also available in a HTML format as well as the Flash version.

Aerial nominated for a South Bank Show award!

The annual South Bank Show awards are the only British awards to cover all areas of the arts including pop, film, dance and opera. The awards ceremony takes place at London’s Savoy Hotel on Friday 27th January. Aerial is one of three nominations in the Pop category along with Gorillaz “Demon Days” and Richard Hawley “Coles Corner”. The awards will be broadcast on ITV1 on Sunday night 29th January, 23:10–00:25. The South Bank Show is one of Britain’s most prominent arts programmes, presented by Melvyn Bragg. Read more about what promises to be a star-studded event here. UPDATE 27th January: Kate eventually lost out to Richard Hawley in today’s award ceremony.

Aerial – vinyl version is ready!!

From Kate’s official site: “The double-vinyl version of ‘Aerial’ should be in the shops from this Saturday (17th December) – beautifully packaged in a gatefold sleeve with large 24-page colour booklet.” Great news! At last fans can add this to their record collections in time for Christmas, we’re already hearing great things about how these records sound and look, and we’ll be checking for the traditional vinyl scratched message from Kate…

Aerial achieves platinum album status after just 4 weeks!

Peter & Krys at HomeGround have been told by EMI today that Aerial has reachedPlatinum status in the UK just four weeks after release; this represents sales of 300,000 units. Aerial has achieved this award faster than either The Red Shoes or The Sensual World and this represents a major achievement for Kate. Congratulations Kate!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations also to Peter & Krys who completed the monumental task of finishing the hugely anticipated Aerial issue of HomeGround over the weekend in time for their print deadline!

Did you know? The very latest news is gathered at our forum’s buzzing Medialog section here.

Aerial news round-up plus fake birds on billboard!

Don’t worry – I’m not forgetting the round-up of the Kate news when we’ll be taking a look at how Aerial is being received worldwide (it has hit no 2 in the combined European chart!), I am working on it for you – but for now all the very latest news mentions can be found in our forum’s Medialog section. The huge online Kate Bush resource Gaffaweb is now being continually updated with all Aerial-related articles, reviews and interviews etc, be sure to check it out. Kate’s official site is now also available in a HTML format as well as the Flash version. Kate has posted the following message on the site:

Welcome to the website.

This is a place where I can speak to you directly from time to time. The site itself will be an evolving process starting here with some general information, video clips and a few things to purchase.

“Aerial” has been the most difficult album I have ever made, it has straddled nine to ten years, mainly the last five.

There were many times when I thought it might never be finished…but now it is, and I hope you will enjoy it.

Kate Bush

Peacock (the design company who worked with Kate on every aspect of Aerial’s launch including album artwork and design, website, TV ads etc) put a whole bunch of fake birds on a billboard to promote the album – nice! Am asuming this is in London. Here’s a screengrab from the Peacock site….

Aerial enters the UK Album Charts at number 3!

Aerial has entered the UK album charts at number 3 – the second highest new entry after Il Divo (who went straight in at number 1). Westlife claim the number 2 position. The album is now a critical and commerical smash hit with every indication that this is going to remain a huge seller throughout the run up till Christmas! Well done Kate, we’re delighted for you and for everyone who has worked so hard on this new release. King Of The Mountain is still selling and remains in the Top 30 in its 3rd week – now at number 21, while UK airplay for the single is now at its highest yet according to Music Week. VINYL UPDATE: Word is that the double vinyl version of Aerial will not be available till 5th December as it is taking a little longer than expected to get the quality right. Still, plenty of time to get your mitts on the BIG booklet and artwork before Christmas 🙂

KBC sends letter from Kate to subscribers

Kate has sent out a personalised letter to people on the KBC (Kate Bush Club) database, thanking them for making Aerial a success. (thanks to Roberto for scanning his…)

She has also updated her official site:

Album selling very well! Single stays in UK Top Ten. Kate’s official site launches.

Aerial has been flying off the shop shelves in the UK with only Il Divo and possibly Westlife capable of outselling Kate by the weekend according to midweek chart predicitions. There have been many reports of shops simply selling out of the new album already. Whatever the final tally, fans will relish the fact that Aerial, being a double album, means that Kate’s selling twice as many CDs as anyone else! Strong sales of King Of The Mountain meant that the single has remained in the UK Top Ten this week at number 8.

Kate’s official site is now up and running at As well as a note from Kate there’s photos, video, audio and other downloads available, a shop stocked with t-shirts, sweatshirts, prints and mouse-mats and a biography and news section – so check it out!

If you didn’t get to hear it the BBC Front Row Interview with Kate is here. Also Mark Radcliffe’s show featuring excerpts from his interview with Kate can be listened to again at the BBC site here. Note that the Mark Radcliffe interview with Kate will be broadcast on November 19th as a documentary on Radio 2 at 9pm. The radio interviews underline Kate’s surprise and delight at the tremendous success that her eighth studio album is having. More reviews coming soon, meanwhile they are being compiled over at Gaffaweb for you. [ On a personal note, the release of the album has coincided with two separate trips that take me away from site-work just now so this would account for the slightly reduced rate of updates – to be honest I think we’re all just luxuriating in this new music for now, but I will catch up eventually. If I can manage it I’m going to put my own thoughts about the album together for the much-anticipated new issue of HomeGround magazine due out in December (who spotted their ad in Mojo?!). The album is extraordinarily beautiful and powerful. I couldn’t give a toss about chart positions or anything else right now. Thanks so much again Kate. I’m off to pop my headphones on again. “…we dive deeper and deeper”]

Dutch launch party

In the Netherlands EMI has organised an Aerial launch party on Wednesday 2nd November, 19.30 in the FAME music store in the Kalverstraat Amsterdam. See the Dutch offical site here and hear some great birdsong too. Update – this event was unfortunately cancelled.

King Of The Mountain enters the UK chart at Number 4!

It’s official! Kate’s new single has entered the charts at number 4, it’s a smash hit folks. This is Kate’s 3rd most successful single ever after Running Up That Hill and Wuthering Heights. It is also now her 25th Top 40 hit. Warmest congratulations to Kate – welcome back to the highest reaches of the charts! And if we couldn’t stand any more excitement there’s still the matter of a certain double-album in just a few days time…

Aerial – MASSIVE album news round-up

MORE REVIEWS: The terrific reviews for Kate’s eighth studio album are stacking up…this album is already an enormous critical success for Kate, each successive review getting us more and more excited for the release day. Here’s a brief look at most of them, reminding you that the full text of reviews can be found in this section of the Gaffaweb archive. The upcoming Mojo magazine we are all waiting to get our hands on gives Kate not just a 5 star review but also their “Instant Classic” rating! Jim Irvin writes: “Kate Bush is the greatest living British artist in song and this is her masterpiece.” Mark Blake in Q Magazine has given Aerial a 4-star review: “…committed Katewatchers can while away the winter nights joining the dots between Aerial and songs on her previous albums. It’s all here (again): cities under water, the harnessing of sexual energy, the elemental power of Mother Nature; lots of watery, windswept shagging, then. King Of The Mountain rallies the troops in a leisurely march heavenwards, name-checking Elvis in a voice less mannered than of old. The song smoulders and the same trick works again on How To Invisible, all bare musical bones rattling behind lyrics touching on some never quite specified fear waiting “at the end of the labyrinth”…when real life creeps back in elsewhere, it gets a welcome twist. Mrs Bartolozzi takes a washing machine and its mundane contents, subverting domestic drudgery into a metaphor for something more exciting. By the song’s “swishing, swoshing” spin cycle, Bush has tumbled Allce In Wonderland-style into the Hotpoint and ended up “wading into the surf” where “fish swim between my legs”. Earlier, on Pi, she counts down numbers against spidery keyboard fills and an elastic bassline, sounding like a female-fronted Talk Talk or a telephone sex line for kinky mathematicians…on the first disc’s closing track, A Coral Room, though, Bush proves she can excel with just her voice and Gary Brooker’s piano as tools. Here, she spins a tale of an Atlantis-style sunken city into the memory of, presumably, her late mother. It’s a spellbinding performance and the equal of anything on 1985’s revered Hounds Of Love…for everything-but-the-kitchen-sink thrills, though, there is still the nine-part A Sky Of Honey. Bush embarks on another quest, pulling the listener under water and up mountains, this time with twittering birdsong, children’s voices, maniacal laughter, a jazz rumba and even a spoken-word turn from Rolf Harris, building in the manner of vintage Kate Bush – Cloudbusting, The Big Sky, Breathing – into an overblown spine-tingling denouement; this time with Danny McIntosh playing a guitar solo that will put most in mind of Bush’s mentor, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. “Could be we are here, could be in my dream,” she declares as the piece winds to its explosive conclusion. And it’s a statement that encapsulates the never-never land invented on Aerial. You could lose yourself for days here. The world is a better place with Kate Bush in it. She really should do this sort of thing more often.” The magazine also made King Of The Mountain their video of the week here

Aerial is Music Week‘s Album Of The Week: “12 years out of the spotlight has done little to dim either Bush’s allure or her musical potency. Indeed, she sounds as vital as ever on this 16-track, two-CD set – a dense, hypnotic album that couldn’t have come from anyone else. As interesting musically as it is lyrically, Aerial takes in samba, classical, folk and even a touch of drum & bass, but it is the narrative, arrangements and production that elevate it into something special.” The December 2005 issue of Record Collector has Kate on the cover and a 9 page full-colour feature on “Collectable Kate” and a four star review of Aerial: “…choc-a-bloc with familiar motifs and the elaborate, sculpted music that made millions worship her in the first place…what she has delivered is probably her most wholly satisfying work since 1985’s Hounds of Love.”

The Irish Times has also given Aerial a 4-star rating and made it their CD Of The Week. Tony Clayton-Lea writes: “…this has more sonic smarts and intelligence than most of the sharpest current musical operators you can think of…an album with not a hint of the conventional about it, Aerial is a record made by a person whose values have shifted with age and experience, and which are suitably reflected…it doesn’t work all the time, but when it does it’s a triumph of warmth, depth and clarity.” The Channel 4 site provide a great track by track review of the album here. They describe ‘Bertie’ as “a beautiful, warm and carefully structured song”, and are generally extremely enthusiastic about the album, despite saying a lot of it is “nuts”!

Kate Bush 2005The BBC have reviewed the album on their website: “…her voice escapes, rather than emerges, in that familiar part-piercing, part-haunting tone that uniquely can carry across consonants and vowels with seductive ease…How to be Invisible is side one’s stand out track, with a real sense of menace in its driving beat. “I found a book on how to be invisible. On the edge of the labyrinth,” she sings…Aerial stands alongside The Hounds of Love and The Kick Inside as her finest work.” The Daily Express ran their review under the heading “It’s bizarre – but Kate’s quirks work”. “…this is an album that gradually wins you over…it’s hard not to be impressed by its vision and artistic integrity. The second CD is the real treasure, with its extended song cycle about art, love and nature…the lyrics, music, use of sounds and the way Bush manages to bend and shape her voice in this section all add up to create a truly moving piece of work that is relatively free of her usual annoying eccentricities. Who’d have thought it? A Kate Bush album that’s actually a pleasure to listen to.”

Kitty Empire in The Observer (October 30th) writes: “It is extraordinary – jaw-dropping, no less. It’s also tearjerking, laugh-out-loud funny, infuriating, elegiac, baffling, superb and not always all that great. Her beats are dated, for instance; unchanged since the Eighties. For a technological innovator with the freedom of her own studio, Bush’s whole soundbed really could do with an airing. And there’s a sudden penchant for heady Latin rhythms here that sits a little awkwardly, even for this enthusiastic borrower of world music. More problematically, however, Bush’s whimsies have never been quite so amplified. If you thought the young Bush prancing around to Bronte was a little de trop, this album is not for you. There’s a song about a little brown jug and one about a washing machine (both, though, are really about other things). There are several passages where Bush sings along to birdsong, and one where she laughs like a lunatic. Rolf Harris – Rolf Harris! – has a big cameo. But Aerial succeeds because it’s all there for a reason. And because the good stuff is just so sublime. ‘King of the Mountain’, Bush’s Elvis-inspired single, is both a fine opener and a total red herring. Bush’s juices really get going on ‘Pi’, a sentimental ode to a mathematician, audacious in both subject matter and treatment. The chorus is the number sung to many, many decimal places. It’s closely followed by a gushing ode to Bush’s son, Bertie, that’s stark and medieval-sounding. The rest of disc one (aka A Sea of Honey) sets a very high bar for disc two, with the Joan of Arc-themed ‘Joanni’ and the downright poppy ‘How to Be Invisible’ raising the hair on your arms into a Mexican wave. Disc two, subtitled ‘A Sky of Honey’, is a suite of nine tracks which, among other things, charts the passage of light from afternoon (‘Prologue’) to evening (‘An Architect’s Dream’, ‘The Painter’s Link’) and through the night until dawn. Things get a little hairier here. The theme of birdsong is soon wearing, and the extended metaphor of painting is laboured. But it’s all worth it for the double-whammy to the solar plexus dealt by ‘Nocturn’ and the final, title track. In ‘Nocturn’, the air is pushed out of your lungs as you cower helplessly before the crescendo. ‘Aerial’, meanwhile, is a totally unexpected ecstatic disco meltdown that could teach both Madonna and Alison Goldfrapp lessons in dancefloor abandon. It leaves you elated, if not a little exhausted. After the damp squib that was The Red Shoes, it’s clear Bush is still a force to be reckoned with. The problem, though, with female genius – for many men at least – is that very frequently it is not like male genius. And with its songs about children, washing machines going ‘slooshy sloshy’, Joan of Arc, Bush’s mother, not to mention the almost pagan sensuality that runs through here like a pulse, Aerial is, arguably, the most female album in the world, ever. There’s an incantation to female self-effacement that rewrites Shakespeare’s weird sisters: ‘Eye of Braille/ Hem of anorak/ Stem of wallflower/ Hair of doormat’. Even the one about maths is touchy-feely. But the artistry here is so dizzying, the ambition and scope so vast, that even the deafest, most inveterate misogynist could not fail to acknowledge it. Genius. End of.”

Will Hermes, writing in The New York Times in their Sunday Oct 30th edition says; “Like 1985’s Hounds of Love, perhaps her best record, her latest is split between a group of individual songs and a suite. But where “Hounds” is dense and agitated, busy with sounds created on the Fairlight synthesizer…Aerial is expansive and relatively relaxed. Recorded with longtime associates, including Del Palmer on bass, many of the album’s songs are arranged simply for voice and piano, like the exquisite A Coral Room…sometimes Aerial is so relaxed, it drifts into smooth jazz territory. But Bush’s voluptuous, slightly alien voice usually corrects by contrast: purring, trilling, cackling, jumping octaves and echoing itself, witchlike, in multitracked choruses.” The PLayback programme on Kate Bush 2005BBC Radio 6 gave an overall positive review, with Aerial being described as an “intense emotional rollercoaster”, a “return to form” and “definitely thumbs up”. How To Be Invisible was said to be the possible second single (US promo posters for Aerial are also highlighting this track). Rob Chapman in The Times writes: “Aerial is a double album and, like most doubles, it has its ponderous moments. Thankfully, it also contains half-a-dozen tracks that are as good as anything she has done, and its closing triptych, Somewhere In Between, Nocturn and Ariel, represents the most joyous and euphoric finale to an album that you will hear all year. If the recent single and opening track, King of the Mountain, hinted at a newfound maturity in her voice, it also confirmed the increased sophistication of her lyrics. Who else inhabits the kind of skewed terrain where Elvis morphs into Citizen Kane? And who else would have written a homage to pi? “3.1415,” she coos over a rich bed of acoustic guitars. “926535,” she continues fetchingly…the second half of Aerial abounds with twittering birdscapes, melting suns and artists who morph into their paintings, the whole shebang culminating with that extraordinary trio of songs in which Kate seems to merge with the birdsong. There really is no one quite like her. There are moments on Aerial when you wish she would cut loose with the arrangements — which at times remain far too linear and rooted in a soundscape that she hasn’t tampered with significantly since the 1980s — and collaborate with a Massive Attack or a Future Sound of London. But all is forgiven the moment you hear a song such as Mrs Bartolozzi, in which a life of domestic drudgery is suddenly transformed into something magically sensual just by watching a blouse and a pair of trousers intertwining in a washing machine. Shine on you crazy Hotpoint-wielding diamond.”

Finally, The Timespublished a piece compiling qutes from many famous fans of Kate’s, and commented on Aerial thus: “With the arrival of Bush’s new album, Aerial, a sprawling double-CD of pagan poetry, artists from every genre and generation are lining up to pay homage to the faerie queen of British pop. Her perfectionist mastery of arranging and producing, her ability to juggle music with motherhood, her lyrical hinterland of heightened emotion and ripe sensuality — all have been interpreted as defiantly feminine, even feminist statements.” And finally BBC 2’s Newsnight Review panel were split over the merits of the album. The presenter and one guest felt it was a good album that would grow with every listen while others couldn’t get around Kate’s lyrics from Mrs Bartolozzi and complained that Kate wasn’t being “the right kind of eccentric”.

p.s. click on the promo photos for the BIG versions 🙂

Kate speaks to Mojo Magazine – first extracts published

On November 2nd Mojo magazine publish what seems to be one of only two Aerial interviews with Kate (BBC Radio 2 have secured the second). The Guardian have published extracts from this interview with Tom Doyle here. The Mojo article presents Kate as “the antithesis of the mysterious recluse” which the tabloid press is so ridiculously fond of portraying her as. “…here, in Kate Bush’s home, there is a 47-year-old mother of one, dressed in a workday uniform of brown shirt, jeans and trainers, hair clipped up in practical busy-busy fashion, all wary smiles and nervous laughter…around us there is evidence of a very regular, family-shaped existence – toys and kiddie books scattered everywhere, a Sony widescreen with a DVD of Shackleton sitting below it.

Atop the fireplace hangs a painting called Fishermen by James Southall, a tableau of weather-beaten seadogs wrestling with a rowing boat; it is soon to be familiar as part of the inner artwork of Aerial. Balanced against a wall in the office next door is a replica of the Rosebud sledge burned at the dramatic conclusion of Citizen Kane, as commissioned for the video of Bush’s comeback single, King of the Mountain, and brought home as a gift for her seven-year-old son Bertie. “I go out of my way to be a very normal person and I just find it frustrating that people think that I’m some kind of weirdo reclusive that never comes out into the world.” Her voice notches up in volume. “Y’know, I’m a very strong person and I think that’s why actually I find it really infuriating when I read, ‘She had a nervous breakdown’ or ‘She’s not very mentally stable, just a weak, frail little creature’.” If the outside world was wondering whether Kate Bush would ever finish her long-awaited album, then it was a feeling shared by its creator. “Oh yeah,” she sighs. “I mean, there were so many times I thought, I’ll have the album finished this year, definitely, we’ll get it out this year. Then there were a couple of years where I thought, I’m never gonna do this. If I could make albums quicker, I’d be on a roll wouldn’t I? Everything just seems to take so much time. I don’t know why. Time…evaporates…for the last 12 years, I’ve felt really privileged to be living such a normal life,” she explains. “It’s so a part of who I am. It’s so important to me to do the washing, do the Hoovering. Friends of mine in the business don’t know how dishwashers work. For me, that’s frightening. I want to be in a position where I can function as a human being. Even more so now where you’ve got this sort of truly silly preoccupation with celebrities. Just because somebody’s been in an ad on TV, so what? Who gives a toss?”

Kate discusses the track Mrs Bartolozzi: “A couple of people who heard it early on,” she says, dipping a spoon into her avocado, “they either really liked it or they found it very uncomfortable. I liked the idea of it being a very small subject. Clothes are such a strong part of who a human being is. Y’know, skin cells, the smell. Somebody thought that maybe there’d been this murder going on, I thought that was great. I love the ambiguity.” The shiver-inducing stand-out track on Aerial, however, comes at the end of the first disc. A Coral Room is a piano-and-vocal ballad that Bush admits she first considered to be too personal for release, dealing as it does with the death of her mother, a matter that she didn’t address at the time in any of the songs on The Red Shoes. “No, no I didn’t,” she says. “I mean, how would you address it? I think it’s a long time before you can go anywhere near it because it hurts too much. I’ve read a couple of things that I was sort of close to having a nervous breakdown. But I don’t think I was. I was very, very tired. It was a really difficult time.” Read the exclusive 16-page interview with Kate in MOJO magazine, on sale on Wednesday November 3rd.

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