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May 30, 2011 | by  | in Music |
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Kate Bush: Director’s Cut

The planets must be aligned; Kate Bush has released a new album. A new release from Kate is always a bit of an event, mainly because since her heyday in the 80s the duration between albums has been ever increasing (her last two albums were 12 years apart). She’s not being lazy or anything. She’s been having kids and stuff. She recently seems to be enjoying a bout of musical productivity though. As well as having a brand new studio album due later this year she’s also managed to whip up this re-imagining of older material.

If you’re not familiar with Bush’s 1985 masterpiece Hounds Of Love go become familiar right now. Go get it, quit your job, throw your phone in the sea, lock your door and listen to the album continuously for a week. Leave your house and reflect for half an hour. Then listen for another week. It’s the defining work of her career and is the greatest example of why she is such an important figure in pop music. Her next two albums, 1989’s The Sensual World and 1993’s The Red Shoes were a mixed bag. The former was a far less ambitious album but still exemplified her brilliant songwriting, and the latter… well… it was a bit weak. It’s songs from these two albums that comprise Director’s Cut.

The songs she’s selected have been completely rerecorded. There have been some slight structural alterations, some lyrics changed, instruments taken away and added. Theoretically, it’s a bit of a dodgy idea. There are several moments throughout her career where her ingenuity gets dangerously close to silliness. Self-indulgence doesn’t really seem like the right term… she just seems to get a bit carried away sometimes. However, this new album (and Kate Bush does consider this to be a new album) works well. Really well. In fact if you really were to view this as an album in its own right, it’d be up there with Hounds Of Love and her other masterpiece 2005’s Aerial (the album that took 12 years).

The aesthetic and tone of Director’s Cut is actually quite similar to Aerial. The gentle and sparse rerecording of ‘Moments of Pleasure’ sounds almost exactly like ‘A Coral Room’, one of Aerial’s standout tracks, and the sinister stomp of ‘Lily’ would sit comfortably next to ‘King of the Mountain’. It makes for a more understated production and almost every song benefits from the treatment. Comparably the original versions sound colder and harsher. The replacement of drum machines with live drums, often played with brushes, have worked wonders for the songs and the subtlety with which Bush has employed synthesizer textures is nothing short of masterful. ‘This Womans Work’ is even more haunting and affecting than before and the aforementioned ‘Lily’ is brought to life with far greater warmth and depth.

What I really like about Director’s Cut is how solid it is. Start to finish every song is good, it never gets dull, it’s out-there at all the right moments and it’s restrained at all the right moments and that’s not something you can say about most of Kate Bush’s albums. Furthermore, the album serves as a reminder of just how strong her songwriting is and shows that the intelligence behind her musicianship hasn’t waned. Hopefully this is proof that Kate’s return to form with Aerial wasn’t a one-off and her next album will be worth the wait.

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  1. Mark says:

    I’m so happy to have Kate Bush back from wherever she was. Director’s Cut is a refreshing reminder of Bush’s authentic voice and craft. Some “singers” should take 12 years off – or longer. And I like that she returns with this sort-of experimental collection of songs. I’ve been listening to her earlier recordings and enjoying her unique character.

    Some singers I like don’t get a lot of attention – Dory Previn, Toni Childs (has a new CD out), Phoebe Snow (RIP), Andrea Marcovicci (she’s a cabaret singer). You should also check out John Kelly. He does an amazing interpretation of Joni Mitchell. I saw him live and he really becomes here.

  2. smackdown says:

    kate bush is cool i wish i could dance like her

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