Thursday, June 21, 2018

Never For Ever - Kate Bush

Kate's third studio album saw a complete change of direction - a trait which would repeat itself with each subsequent album release to date. Whereas its predecessors, The Kick Inside and Lionheart, were released in quick succession and inevitably sounded similar, Never for Ever was a sea change of vocal nuances, delivery, and instrumentation.

The latter was due in no small part to Kate's discovery of the Fairlight synthesizer, introduced to her by Richard Burgess of the now long-forgotten Landscape. The Fairlight allowed Kate to experiment with sampling and soundscaping - skills which would be honed to perfection on her next two releases. Never for Ever, like all of Kate's albums, provides its fair share of intense emotional impact. "The Infant Kiss" is among the most haunting piece of music you will ever hear - shivers down the spine. Other tracks worthy of mention include "Army Dreamers" - Kate's first use of Irish instrumentation blends beautifully with the sampled "rifle" percussion. Likewise, the soundscaping in "Egypt" demonstrated a talent for sculpting sound through experimentation.  The last song, however, "Breathing" is haunting, innovative, dramatic and sumptuous, among the best Kate's ever done. If the rest of the album is enjoyable and anticipatory, "Breathing" deserves 6 of 5 stars. 



The Cold War-influenced track marked a big leap forward for Kate from her earlier piano-based songs, being significantly influenced by progressive-rock allies Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. Kate herself has said that she sat down to write a Pink Floyd song, in which mode she made effective use of a Fairlight CMI synthesizer, a heavy-guitar climax, and some post-apocalyptic imagery: ‘After the blast/ chips of plutonium are twinkling in every lung’. She also added a spoken-word section that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Wall, though here it is seemingly a newsreader describing the impact of a nuclear bomb: ‘After the flash a fireball can be seen to rise, sucking up under it the debris, dust and living things around the area of the explosion’. While such downbeat ‘lyrics’ were almost certainly not reproduced in Smash Hits magazine, they didn’t hinder the song from getting to an impressive number 16 in the UK chart, sandwiched between the Average White Band’s funky ‘Let’s Go Round Again’ and David Essex’s motor-racing-themed ‘Silver Dream Machine’, as unlikely as it may seem.

Not only was it ground-breaking and ahead of its time, it was the springboard for the creative forces that went on to produce two of the most finely-crafted and intricate recordings of the modern era, namely 'The Dreaming' and 'Hounds of Love'.Not only was it ground-breaking and ahead of its time, it was the springboard for the creative forces which would go on to produce two of the most finely-crafted and intricate recordings of the modern era, The Dreaming and Hounds of Love.

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