Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Sea of Honey, A Sea of Sky

Aerial is an LP with two sub-albums within: A Sea of Honey and A Sky of Honey. Much like Hounds of Love, the second disc is a concept album with the tracks merging, with a common theme of experiencing a perfect day from one dawn to the next. There's laughter, breathing, vibrato and bird imitation, as if Kate has realized that her lesser voice with age is simply as effective as the cherubic squeal of years ago, if only she controls what there is left rather than reach for what isn't. But what characterizes Kate Bush's songwriting here is a mature sense of playfulness. Lead track "King of the Mountain" is an oddly pensive song about Elvis Presley, comparing him to Charles Foster Kane, with Graceland as Xanadu, wondering if perhaps if he is still out there, as if he left it behind because of the artifice of it, gladly rediscovering the joy of anonymity. It's funny shit and yet it's oddly spiritual. Indeed it is as odd as Kate can muster on everyday and mundane topics.

Kate's rendering of π to 116 decimal places is a revelation on π. I'm no mathematician, regarding numbers with distrust; I hadn't knows that numbers could be about love. "How to be Invisible" is a rather witty song about privacy that contains a spell of invisibility: Eye of Braille/ Hem of anorak/ Stem of wallflower/ Hair of doormat. So far Aerial is like Prospero's Books in The Tempest, like Harry Potter newspapers that move. From the wondrous swell of drama in "King of the Mountain" to the poetic heartbreak in "Mrs. Bartolozzi," to the moving piano suite in "A Coral Room" a song about the fragility of time, of how quickly things slip away from us," I dare you not to get misty as Kate sings, "Put your hand over the side of the boat./ What do you feel?"

Kate uses the first disk to weed out the faint of heart. Casual listeners be damned. Even die-hard Kate fans may not be able to stomach choruses that sing pi to the nth or pay homage to the sexual nature of washing machines. yetif you resist distraction you'll be rewarded with the oddest oddball beauty since Tori Amos wanted to kill that waitress. The second disc, A Sky of Honey is more of a linear statement, the nine songs tracing the afternoon through sunset into the night's dreams. The sky is like a painting and the rain runs the colors of sea and sky into a honeyed haze of sundown smearing shadows across the ground as night falls. The songs are bright and gauzy for the sunlight hours and darker and more urgent after nightfall. It is a simple theme beautifully executed, and "Nocturn" is its apex. "We become panoramic," indeed. "All the dreamers awaken!" As the day becomes the night in a flurry of colors ("An Architect's Dream", "Sunset"), the songs become more personal and more emotional ("Somewhere in Between", "Nocturn"), until we get to the sunrise, and the title track. You wouldn't imagine Kate so carefree, so full of light. I can't even describe it. It's just too beautiful. A perfect closer to KB's new age LP.