Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Let Slip the Hounds of Love: Kate Bush Returns

If you're a Kate Bush fan, you can hear a sample of "King of the Mountain," the first release from her upcoming double album, Aerial. The entire song is available digitally on iTunes, Walmart, Napster, et al. I nabbed it from iTunes as soon as I saw it.

It doesn't have the immediate hook of "Rubberband Girl" or "Experiment IV," but instead sounds like one of the more hypnotic songs found on the second side of Hounds of Love, e.g., "Watching You Without Me" or "Under Ice." That, by the way, is not a bad thing. Hypnotic Kate Bush is just as good, if not better, than hooky Kate Bush. The upshot is that by the third listen, I was hooked. It's got what I can only describe clumsily as Kate Bush vocal phrasing and texture; Kate's voice is not only beautiful, but she uses it to create vocal texture through complex phrasing. Put less abstractly, you can hear a variety of vocal textures just in one word sung by Kate. For example, the chorus in "King of the Mountain" runs:

The wind is whistling
The wind is whistling
Through the house

She runs through a variety of textures in "whistling" and then slows her phrasing down on "through the house." That kind of measured phrasing in Kate's songs is what got me hooked on Kate, even in the midst of my long defunct career of listening to hardcore punk in the early 80s. It's also why I find divas such as Whitney Houston and Celine Dion to be so annoying; they have beautiful voices, but they're pressed into the service of banal, histrionic pop. Kate leaves them in the dust.

Another treat in "King of the Mountain" is Kate's unabashed attempt to be the whistling wind by singing "wooooooooo ooooooh." It recalls her barking on the "Hounds of Love."

And, yes, I know that Kate leans to the left, while I lean to the right. One of my worst imagined fears involves Kate pulling a Dixie Chick and remarking that she's ashamed to have the same last name as a certain President. If that happens, I'm leaving the planet. For now, I have a strict don't-ask-don't-tell policy in regards to Kate's politics. I don't want to know what they are, and you better not tell me.

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