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Thursday, August 21, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #6 - Understanding

Aerial, Kate Bush's first album in twelve years, had firmly reestablished her as a force in music. It sold well over a million copies and was almost universally critically acclaimed. Fans wondered what was next. We knew Kate would disappear for a while to recharge her batteries, but for how long? In her Mojo interview from the December 2005 issue, when asked when the next album might appear, she answered:

"Yeah, I thought I'd do two next year... Two in one year. That would really surprise them, wouldn't it?"

Of course we all laughed, while secretly thinking "you did it in 1978...". In the end Kate would disappear for five and a half years. Then on 11 March 2011 the announcement was made that a new album was about to be released . Well, I say "new". The press release stated:

On “Directors Cut” Kate revisits a selection of tracks from her albums “The Sensual World” and “The Red Shoes”, a process that presents a fascinating portrait of an artist in a constant state of evolution. She has re-recorded some elements whilst keeping the best musical performances of each song – making it something of a director’s cut but in sound, not vision.

For an artist that had to be forced to release a greatest hits compilation and who has stated that she never listens to her old work, this came as a total surprise. The press release went on to say that Kate was currently working on new material, though no release date had been set. This all took a while to sink in. Fans did not know how to react. Of course it was amazing to have Kate back again, but re-recording songs that many of us held sacred? I, for one, trusted that Kate must have a purpose in doing this, a need to resolve a period of frustration and disappointment in her career, before feeling free to move forward. I believe American therapists call this "closure".

Before the album appeared, as always there was a single released. Deeper Understanding originally appeared on The Sensual World in 1989 and told the story of a lonely individual who found love from a computer program. This was pre-Internet, pre-Facebook, and when only around 15% of homes had a computer. Spooky! Heard today the song changes from speculative fiction (thank you Norn) to social commentary.

Ironically, when Kate first recorded the song she couldn't quite achieve the computer voice she wanted, as the technology wasn't there. That annoyance made it a prime candidate for a director's cut. This time the computer was played by Kate's son, Bertie. The song was also 50% longer, fitting Kate's new style of letting the music breathe. It was a remarkable transformation and fully justified the premise of the album. This was clearly the vision she had intended for the song, finally realised.

Kate also returned to directing film with this project, recruiting Robbie Coltrane, Noel Fielding and Frances Barber to appear in a video for the song.

I was fully persuaded that Kate was right to breathe new life into these old songs. I couldn't wait to hear what she'd done with the others...

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