Saturday, 7 May 2011

"Slight" return of Kate Bush

It might seem unlikely if you don’t know the details, but Kate Bush is releasing a new record this May. Just 6 brief years after 2005’s triumphant Aerial, it might seem ridiculous, unbelievable. But then the hard truth kicks in: Director’s Cut (due out on the 16th of May) is an album consisting of reworkings of Kate’s older material – the songs that made up The Sensual World and 1993's unjustly dismissed The Red Shoes 

The word ‘artist’ doesn’t mean a thing these days. Critics, consumers, and, of course, artists themselves keep brandishing the term in a way that could be considered satirical. But it’s not – they seem to be deadly serious, as if all it takes is shoot a movie, release a record, paint a picture… 

And speaking of paintings… If you visit Metropolitan, you will find a number of old-school, relatively successful paintings done by women. They are good, no doubt – but they are also academically, plainly good, for they are made in manly style and from manly mould. They look dated. Most of them lack emotion, depth, attitude – and not only that. Consider: you can easily find loads of attitude and emotion in someone like Chrissie Hynde, who adopted a very recognizable rock-star image many years ago and for all those years to come. But I fully get her music – or seem to, anyway. Quite soon I come to realise that I’ve grown to fully appreciate the Pretenders’ excellent first record, and can only be moved by “Kid” for purely nostalgic reasons. Whereas the music of Kate Bush – it is timeless, it comes from that vast, Emily Bronte-esque imagination, it is not even really gettable. I strive to get it (and get enormous pleasure from trying) – her genuine, sensual, creative, spontaneous, whimsical, Molly Bloom-like world, but I never really get it. Because she’s not trying to be anything, she’s just expressing herself, she’s just doing her art – like a true artist should. Kate never really had any time for being hip, modernistic, feministic, etc. For me, her music is a perfect example of female art that is genuinely and masterfully easy and relentlessly impressive and hard-hitting at the same time. In fact, I view the music of Kate Bush as some kind of an equivalent to the affluent, highly lyrical literature of Virginia Woolf or, say, Russian poetess Anna Akhmatova. Songs like “Hello Earth”, “Hammer Horror”, “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”, “Leave It Open”, “Army Dreamers” (…) – they bring me to tears, they make my heart beat faster not because of those good old days when I first heard them, but because they are full of intelligent, out-of-this-world hooks as well as poetic, sometimes fairly disturbing imagery that keeps puzzling, thrilling, enticing me.  

But when you’re a fan – you know you’re in trouble. Inventive, whimsical perfectionist, Kate never releases albums if they don’t have the word ‘masterpiece’ written all over them. One could of course argue that working on a record for 12 goddamn years is slightly stretching it (I’m talking about Aerial here), but consider the quality. Art, after all, is not something you meet in the crowded street, smile casually, and say hello to. 

So there’s nothing I can do about the boyish excitement that is overwhelming me. Yes, Director’s Cut is just an updated collection of familiar songs; yes, the prophetic “Deeper Understanding” now has this inevitable computerized voice; yes, the video for the song is not too good (even though the fact that Noel Fielding gets hanged at the end makes it worth it); yes, it means that we’ve got another eternity to wait for Kate’s next album. But I know for a fact that several days from now I will be immersed in a singular, intriguing world of an artist who happens to be so rare and so true. 

Incidentally, for me Kate Bush also reflects everything that is so great about women. This effortless maturity, this intuitive experience. Yet again she makes me realise the simple truth: that a man is a boy, and a girl is a woman.

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