Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Album review: KATE BUSH - Director's Cut

Highlights: Flower Of The Mountain, Song Of Solomon, Lily, Deeper Understanding, Top Of The City

It’s tempting to believe that it is the consent finally granted by the James Joyce estate (to quote Molly Bloom from the last chapter of Ulysses) that inspired Kate Bush to record Director’s Cut. But however beautiful, however exciting this idea may sound, it is not necessarily true. Because think what you will, but these are still very exciting times for an artist to work in. And Kate gave it another shot.

Director’s Cut is Kate Bush’s first album in 6 years – a trifle compared to her previous 12-year hiatus. Well, there are no new songs here, these are just re-recordings of her older songs… But as it always is with Ms Bush, once you hear the music, you stop complaining: re-workings or not, you certainly do get a perfect idea of how much time, thought and talent she put into it. It may be precisely this perfectionism of hers that makes her records sound timeless and non-finite to me: there always seems something more to discover. New layers of sound, new vocal undertones, new meanings. For instance, it is only now, on listening to Director’s Cut, that I finally realised “Top Of The City” is actually about female orgasm. And the brilliant metaphor, the sheer eloquence of her imagery put Carole King’s excellent “I Feel The Earth Move” to shame.

The Molly Bloom song is now called “Flower Of The Mountain”, and it opens the record on a sensual, slightly mysterious note. It’s not much changed from the original (“The Sensual World”), apart from the lyrics, of course, but it’s now given an even more elaborate, more affluent treatment. In fact, all of these 11 songs sound a lot like they used to – yet they all give a very welcome impression of being different and somehow… new. Even though new arrangements aside, all I could say is that “Lily” sounds a bit more aggressive now, and “This Woman’s Work” sounds a little softer, gentler… The song that is changed most drastically, though, is “Deeper Understanding”, Kate’s prophetic tale of computers and addiction. The chilling, haunting melody stays unaltered, but the lyrics of the song must have screamed ‘NOW’ so hard that she just had to add that computerized voice (of her son) to the whole thing – if only for the sake of authenticity. I’ve grown to like it. And I absolutely adore the song’s lengthy coda, wild and paranoid, with its restless, crude harmonica cutting it through like an electric razor.  

Given the ubiquitous character of our time, as well as our incurable, hopeless case of A.D.D., it is both easy and hard to leave your mark in postmodern society. And Kate Bush gave it a shot: she made an album where she covered her own songs so as to make them sound contemporary. But Kate’s greatness is not about that – Kate’s greatness is about the fact that she managed to do it without in any way throwing art into the bargain.


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