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Kate Bush, the inactual | magazine philosophy


A handyman of sounds

For many, in the name of Kate Bush, it is above all a voice that comes to mind – strange, high-pitched, heady. But the English singer was not content to bet on the extraordinary agility of her vocal cords. His albums all testify to a taste for musical experimentation, sound tinkering and the juxtaposition of sometimes heterogeneous elements, so many audacity that paved the way for artists like Bjork, Florence And The Machine Where F.K.A. Twigs. After the success of her first three albums, Kate Bush was able to invest in a personal studio in the early 1980s: it was there that she developed the inventions of The Dreaming (1982) and Hounds of Love (1985).

In the early 1980s, synthesizers and drum machines are all the rage, giving any track inexpensive orchestral breadth. But Kate Bush does not use them like the rest of the music industry: she systematically pairs them with other acoustic instruments (string ensemble, fiddle Irish, musical saw…), sound effects and choirs. While considering sounds as an organic matter whose combinations she can vary at will, the singer lets her imagination run wild with literary and dreamlike inspirations from another era. the single Babooshkawhich opens the album Never For Ever (1980), thus materializes the anger of the jealous woman, of which it is question in the song, by broken glass. In the same album, The Infant Kiss is based on a more acoustic orchestration with piano, choir and string ensemble which is not content with harmonic ranges, but uses processes (tremolos in particular) which contribute to a form of theatrical expressiveness. Kate Bush works with textures, which she weaves into a patchwork complex.

Kate Bush, The Infant Kiss (1980)

The Dreaming (1982) is perhaps the musician’s most bizarre and experimental album, the one where she tortures her voice the most outside the usual rules of vocal technique. She also explores the many possibilities of a choir sometimes pushed to the frontiers of singing, all associated with Celtic-inspired arrangements (Night of the Swallow).

Kate Bush, Night of the Swallow (1982)

But Hounds of Love pushes sound explorations even further. The title Hello Earth begins with a recording of what appears to be a radio (perhaps a nod to his mentor David Gilmour Pink Floyd, who use the same process in Wish You Were Here), to move on to a very simple accompaniment of the voice on the piano. Very quickly, the ensemble thickens with choirs in harmonic rupture, strings, drum machines and even a bagpipe. We feel the 1980s full nose, but there is like the breath of another world that crosses this title.

Kate Bush, Hounds of Love (1985)

A certain sense of staging

If Kate Bush fascinates so much, it’s also because of his sense of direction. Inspired by the literary universe of Stormwind Heights ofEmily Brontethe title Wuthering Heights (1978) and its music video sparked a veritable “Kate Bush mania “, with fans who still meet regularly each year to reproduce the choreography on the day of the birthday of the singer. When the single seems, England is in the middle of a punk wave. But Kate Bush prefers the mists of 19th century literaturee century and romantic long dresses. Anachronistic? Maybe. But it is a success.

Kate Bush, Wuthering Heights (1978)

This sense of theater also animates the construction of his albums, which gradually become concept works. Hounds of Love is the perfect example of this evolution, with a second part inspired by an epic poem byAlfred Tennyson. In the second part, between And Dream of Sheep and The Morning Fog, it is only visions of another world and sorcery (even bombast, will say the gossips). On stage, Kate Bush also designs a total show, where costumes, choreography and scenography tell a story from start to finish. We think of david bowie : nothing surprising, the two artists had the same dance and mime teacher, Lindsay Kemp.

But the scene is a test for Kate Bush: not only does her show require months and months of preparation, incompatible with the requirements of a tour, but she suffers from terrible stage fright. After his tour The Tour of Life in 1979, the singer no longer gave a concert until… 2014. She demanded a necessary solitude, withdrawal from the world, interspersed with a few appearances not devoid of emphasis From there to see her come down from her mountain, like Zarathustra…

Outdated vocalizations

Kate Bush is an artist irrevocably associated with the 1980s, a time when sobriety is synonymous with old-fashionedness. Now is the time for spending, demonstrating resources and making the most of the possibilities of a recording studio. But at Kate Bush, it’s never in a commercial will. On the contrary, she takes malicious pleasure in taking the opposite view of her time (and of her record company), while shaping its sound. A form of” exception “but who would still have the generosity to spawn with “Enslaved Spirits” without completely adopting the overhanging posture of Nietzsche in Human, too human (1978).

Kate Bush definitely has a side too much, which spawns with a kitsch aesthetic (we love the song Cloudbusting, we are less sure of the clip…). Between extravagance and performance camp, and blazing loneliness “unpleasant lunatics” which are “Dangerous Riddles” (Nietzsche, Beyond good and evil, 1886), she digs a very personal furrow at a time when dreams are no longer so relevant. But its success, and even its recent rediscovery by the Netflix generation, testifies to an aspiration for dreamlike escape that is still very much alive.

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