Monday, 14 January 2019

Kate Bush ‎– The Kick Inside (1978)

Style: Art Rock, Pop Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EMI, Sonopresse, Capitol Records

Tracklist:
01.   Moving
02.   The Saxophone Song
03.   Strange Phenomena
04.   Kite
05.   The Man With The Child In His Eyes
06.   Wuthering Heights
07.   James And The Cold Gun
08.   Feel It
09.   Oh To Be In Love
10.   L'Amour Looks Something Like You
11.   Them Heavy People
12.   Room For The Life
13.   The Kick Inside

The tale's been oft-told, but bears repeating: Discovered by a mutual friend of the Bush family as well as Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Bush was signed on Gilmour's advice to EMI at 16. Given a large advance and three years, The Kick Inside was her extraordinary debut. To this day (unless you count the less palatable warblings of Tori Amos) nothing sounds like it. 
Using mainly session musicians, The Kick Inside was the result of a record company actually allowing a young talent to blossom. Some of these songs were written when she was 13! Helmed by Gilmour's friend, Andrew Powell, it's a lush blend of piano grandiosity, vaguely uncomfortable reggae and intricate, intelligent, wonderful songs. All delivered in a voice that had no precedents. Even so, EMI wanted the dullest, most conventional track, James And The Cold Gun as the lead single, but Kate was no push over. At 19 she knew that the startling whoops and Bronte-influenced narrative of Wuthering Heights would be her make or break moment. Luckily she was allowed her head.  
Of course not only did Wuthering Heights give her the first self-written number one by a female artist in the UK, (a stereotype-busting fact of huge proportions, sadly undermined by EMI's subsequent decision to market Bush as lycra-clad cheesecake), but it represented a level of articulacy, or at least literacy, that was unknown to the charts up until then. In fact, the whole album reads like a the product of a young, liberally-educated mind, trying to cram as much esoterica in as possible. Them Heavy People, the album's second hit may be a bouncy, reggae-lite confection, but it still manages to mention new age philosopher and teacher G I Gurdjieff. In interviews she was already dropping names like Kafka and Joyce, while she peppered her act with dance moves taught by Linsdsay Kemp. Showaddywaddy, this was not. 
And this isn't to mention the sexual content. Ignoring the album's title itself, we have the full on expression of erotic joy in Feel It and L'Amour Looks Something Like You. Only in France had 19-year olds got away with this kind of stuff. A true child of the 60s vanguard in feminism, Strange Phenomena even concerns menstruation: Another first. Of course such density was decidedly English and middle class. Only the mushy, orchestral Man With The Child In His Eyes, was to make a mark in the US, but like all true artists, you always felt that Bush didn't really care about the commercial rewards. She was soon to abandon touring completely and steer her own fabulous course into rock history.
Chris Jones  / BBC Review

Nearly God ‎– Nearly God (1996) (USA & Canada Edition)

Style: Abstract, Trip Hop, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Durban Poison, 4th & Broadway

Tracklist:
01.   Tattoo
02.   Poems
03.   Together Now
04.   Keep Your Mouth Shut
05.   I Be The Prophet
06.   Make A Change
07.   Black Coffee
08.   Bubbles
09.   I Sing For You
10.   Yoga
11.   Judas
12.   Children's Story

Trip-Hop is a very interesting style of music to listen to most of the time. Even a more interesting one to review. Some albums will strike you as amazing right off the bat. Others will just sound strange and strewn about all of over the place. Nearly God is an interesting mix between the two, mixing some of the practical elements, with some really different ideas. Each song really does carry it's own separate tune but also contributes to the album as a whole in their own way. Some songs will come off sounding light and very acessible, and some will sound downright disturbing. It will be up to you to decide which ones are which.~
From the start of the album you can tell you're in for a ride. As the album opener, Tatoo is immediately immersive with its creepy, brooding atmosphere, paving the way for the record's bleak and depressing soundscape. Alone in a room with headphones on, Nearly God is as ethereal as it is eerie. This album will jump from one genre bending song to the next in the blink of an eye, and most of the time you don't even progress a song. Songs like Poems and Together Now are very light and upbeat, including very acessible vocals and song structures. Songs like Tattoo, Keep Your Mouth Shut and Judas will give off more of the macabre tone. Between the processed vocals and the very eerie background vocals, it will make you ponder as to whether some of the songs are beautiful or just creepy. But songs such as I Be The Prophet are almost standalone tracks that don't sound like anything you've heard on the album prior. Traditionally oriented strings as the main beat/rhythm of the song really make the song, (among others), some of the best on the album to listen to. With the female vocals and the same processed male vocals layered over the top of each other, it gives a great juxtaposition between angelic and demonic. The music itself is quite amazing, completely un rushed and takes it's time building a constant tone and mood throughout the entire listen. Between the different singing and talking/rapping (if you will) throughout the album, you get a great variety of genres all within one song. This album has almost constant layering, between the vocals and all of the random noises/ambience that is added. While in some releases this can be a nuisance, it is executed very well on this album and almost perfectly in some cases. 
The amount of guest musicians and singer/songwriters is a bit intimidating at times. It can make one wonder, how complete the listening experience is with the vocalist changing almost every single song. But overall the album still retains a very good feel of consistency throughout and still maintains to sound completely different each and every track. With songs that don't even speak English to songs that have one obscure beat then quickly jump to a sample of a pre-recorded generic rap song. 
Although the album does a great job with the atmosphere and almost flawless production of the vocals and music itself, it's not without its' faults. The length of the songs may not look that bad, the longest just clocking in at 6:54. But sometimes the album can feel like it drags on and on, and its just you listening to the same thing over and over again, waiting for something more to happen. Although each song will recapture your attention with each passing track, even some of the 4 minute tracks can seem a bit boring and monotonous. 
This album is very hard to really form a solid opinion on, some of the songs will completely draw you in and make you really listen. Others will just make you want to hit the skip button and see if the next track is better. I would say, if you're into trip-hop or this artist in particular, check this out. It might not be up to par with a lot of the other artists in the genre but it's worth a shot. To everyone who hasn't heard of this artist at all and have never heard of this genre, still check this out. There are better releases, I'm sure, but this is still one great album.
beans  / sputnik music