27 November 2005

three songs this weekend!

Click on the image below each title to listen.

aerial : kate bush
listening time: 7m 52s but well worth it

This is the title track from Kate Bush's first album in 12 years, and the one I love the most. Nothing should stop me from calling it a perfect album. It deserves all the praise it has so far received. Aerial is a deliberate work of sophisticated art. Every note, instrument and pause is arranged to fulfil both contrast and complementarity, and Ms. Bush at 47 has only matured with age, sounding more in control of her style and being more compelling in her songwriting than she has ever been. I can't think of any other artist who can sing the words "washing machine" repeatedly and convey the little tragedies of domestic life. Her greatest asset of course is her voice, which she uses in great variety in Aerial – from the anthemic highs and lows of A Coral Room, a solo piano number reminiscent of This Woman's Work, to the soft sensual warbling of Somewhere in Between. There is no dull moment in this album; just when you think a song has hit that point, as what happens halfway through Sunset, she picks up the pace and injects a dose of flamenco. In Aerial, the final song in the two-CD set, Ms. Bush pushes her talent for dance tracks that she has long demonstrated in songs like Heads We’re Dancing from the album This Sensual World. Here, she morphs into queen of trance, and closing your eyes while listening to its beat, you can imagine yourself being slowly lifted off the ground, shutting off external noise that when she sings "I can't hear a word you're saying," you can feel exactly what she means. The original is great in itself, but Aerial is just begging to be remixed...

vox : extended version : sarah mclachlan
listening time: 6m 50s

...which reminds me of Sarah McLachlan, who isn't new to remixes. In fact, her last album of originals, Afterglow, is now sandwiched between two albums of remixes: Remixed from 2003 and this year's Bloom, which digs deeper into her short but distinguished discography. The former is tolerable; the latter is just awful, especially because it butchers some of her best songs, like Vox. With the exception of Dirty Little Secret done by Thievery Corporation, Bloom reduces her songs to nothing more than the babbling of a woman with a fine voice, then muffling them with relentlessly pounding beats or pointlessly looping them with pointless echoes. Did I just say pointless twice? I guess I can't stress that enough, and that is why I'm posting this early remix of Vox, coming from her album Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff. It is invigorating, as opposed to numbing, which is what Bloom is.

bedtime story : madonna
listening time: 4m 53s

Now I'm posting Bedtime Story because for some reason Aerial also reminded me of this song. Well, I guess not just for some reason. It's also a beautiful trance/electronica track, done to perfection with production by Bjork. This is how it should sound if Kate Bush's song were to be remixed. Bedtime Story comes from Madonna's underrated album, Bedtime Stories, which is her transition from I'm-here-to-shock-you (Erotica) to take-me-seriously (Ray of Light) diva. Unfortunately, everything after Ray of Light has been downhill, and even her fine physical form in the video of Hung Up can't mask the fact that she's past her prime. As I've said somewhere here before, Madonna can't hold it on her own anymore, and her sampling of ABBA is just a more creative variation of her onscreen liplocking with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. And to think she's the same age as Kate Bush.

Feel free to agree.

Artwork for Kate Bush and Madonna came from New York Magazine. I normally use publicity shots for this blog, but this one seemed convenient.

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