When Kate Bush released Aerial in November 2005, her first album in twelve years, I took the week off work. I was outside HMV at 9am that Monday morning, I think I bought four or five copies. One to play, one to keep sealed, one for the car, one for my partner, one just in case. The joy of holding in my hands the physical object was so intense, knowing that it contained such riches within. I got home, put the kettle on, unplugged the phone, drew the curtains and popped in disc one (it was a double album; twice the pleasure). I had heard a lot of those tracks already thanks to radio previews, but of course they were only just beginning to take root in my soul. I composed myself and, after a suitable period of reflection (i.e. about thirty seconds) I put in disc two...
Mummy... Daddy... the day is full of birds...
A bird speaks, a child listens, trying to understand. A summer afternoon, playing, listening, serenading.
We're gonna be laughing about this
The light, here, on this day, unique. Here for a moment, then lost forever. Traces of memories, other vistas, other lands. What a lovely afternoon.
Lines like these have got to be an architect's dream
The act of creation, so tenuous, so fleeting. Accidental genius. A flick of the wrist, magic. Capturing the light. Always changing.
So all the colours run
Rain. The paint runs, the colours merge. See what they have become.
Every sleepy light must say goodbye to the day before it dies...
The light is beginning to fade. Crimson. Red. Rust. Shadows grow longer. That blackbird, is it singing, or conjuring? This light is leaving, but this is only the start of its journey, out into the stars. But for us, it is a goodbye.
This is where the shadows come to play 'twixt the day and night
The day slips away, the night arrives. But not quite yet. There is a moment when both coexist, where there is endless possibility, where the balance of light and dark is acknowledged and embraced.
We stand in the Atlantic and we become panoramic
But the night isn't about darkness; it's about light. Celestial. Ancient. Distant. Sweeping. Just reach up and touch it. This day's light is on its journey to greet the stars. And now another breaks on the horizon. A sea of honey. A sky of honey. And all the dreamers are waking.
All of the birds are laughing, come on let's all join in
Light is noisy. Disruptive. The birds are talking about it. What language is that? I want to understand. Perhaps if I climb up on the roof they'll tell me. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
A Sky Of Honey is simply Kate's masterpiece. Song-suite, concept piece, call it what you will, it is 42 minutes of utter genius. Kate was unhappy about splitting it into tracks when the album was first released and she is right. This has to be consumed whole: each movement builds on the other, interweaved, deliciously complex and layered. This is music for the ages. In decades to come people will talk about this in the same breath as a Mozart symphony. It defines what it is possible to create through song at this point in our history.
After that first playback I just sat stunned, my ears crying in gratitude for what they'd been given. Thank goodness I'd booked the whole week off work. Cup of tea, then back to disc one...
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