Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ran Wan Tan

Under the Ivy hits the spot indeed, written in a manner which suggests the emotion and motion of each stage in the life it describes. The hiatus between Bush signing her deal and the start of recording is slow and magical - describing the life of a young woman left to mature artistically and emotionally in a comfortable environment and yet still results in a strange and worldly-wise music. The recording is different from this being a description of the meeting of the strange and spiritual singer with the workmanlike process of making a record. It is strange that such a free-spirit should create tight little pieces with no room for improvisation. I would suggest that any live performance today (some chance of that hey?) would produce versions almost identical to those late-seventies recordings. And yet they are beautiful songs - oddly traditional in their use of instruments but taken out of the ordinary by the extraordinary voice and exceptional lyrical innovation of their creator.

For the few days I have been reading this book I have thought I really should listen to the albums as they are reached in the book and so last night I started with The Kick Inside, which from the start with its whale song to the ending of the title track, both draws you back to the optimism of the late seventies after the refreshing cleanse out of punk and seems strangely futuristic. It is still not dated because despite the novel use of sound and voice it uses a basically traditional set of instruments. Not until the later albums do we get the crazy, non-real explosions of noise that made me reboot my appreciation. And since the Hounds of Love every album has been a must-have. It culminates in the masterpiece of Aerial which actually reigns in the excesses with a return to more traditional styles of compositions. But never the subjects - the lyrics suggest that Kate's imagination is fuelled by the normality of her family life.

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