Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10 reasons why Kate Bush's return is the most important thing

This article was written by esteemed Greek music writer Markos Fragkos for and I decided to translate it to English so that it gets the much wider audience it deserves. So here it goes hoping I do both Kate and Markos justice.

Kate Bush announced 15 appearances at London's Eventim Apollo (Hammersmith Apollo for us older ones), in August and September of 2014. One can feel the global blood pressure of her audience making internet vibrate like a woofer. Ten Reasons to make your ehart beats rise even more with her return to the world :

1. Kate Bush is a living art legend. In the 55 years of her life she has won the status of an absolute guru of the postwar British music scene, not in the ways and practices commonly used by other successful artists but by doing exactly the opposite. Instead  of being overexposed, she practises selective secrecy and has a low profile. Instead of using marketing, she treats her public honestly. Instead of creating artificial needs for the public, she respects their real and current needs. Instead of bombarding media with images, she prefers subtraction. Instead of doing publicity at every opportunity, she choses hermetic secrecy. Appearing only when she needs to say something. Invaluable. Her only counterpart in my opinion comes from the world of film: Meryl Streep is a vibrant, artistic myth, with absolutely no "fat".

2. Kate Bush is probably the only artist in history that without even going out on tour, without even giving concerts, has her every album nailed at the top 5 of the charts in its week of release. She is the only one that has No.1 albums in five different decades. The most commercially successful British female artist of all time. In various online forums, her fanatical admirers (many, oh so many, and so disparate ethnically and culturally), for 35 years have been exchanging views and ideas about her mythical absence from the concert scene. They cry, complain, get angry, beg. You hear their sobs and a stuffy sense of wrongdoing come off their screens. You often feel they exaggerate. You justify them. You smile when the announcement of her appearances changes the rota of their conversation.

3. Kate Bush never did conquer America (thankfully so, because she wisely avoided the possibility of alienation) despite the best efforts of EMI to impose her there. The refusal of the American public, of course, has not only to do with aesthetic or cultural reasons but mainly with the fact that Kate Bush does not give concerts. Americans have their cultural experience by being into contact with their artists, they need to see them live before they make them a part of their lives.  They never saw her. Thus, only "Running Up That Hill" in 1985 licked the top 40 of Billboard. The cultural gap between the music of Kate Bush and the way Americans have learned to consume contemporary music is of course a chapter unto itself .

4. Kate Bush is the greatest storyteller I've ever heard. Her narrative ability is innate. It lives in her cells, she was born with it. The most important occasion of firing the imagination of people - receivers is recounting the narrative plot and adventures that can stimulate projections of everyone on them. Kate Bush tells stories that are bold, meaningful, shocking, artistically excellent in every respect . Essays and tales in a single framework. She has the balance of mental, emotional, philosophical, stylistic and melodic clarity that gives birth to important artistic works, although in our case we are talking about the form of pop. Artistic, embroidered pop. Insightful, progressive rock. Evocative, electric and electronic music. Post-classical. Whatever. Impossible to fit her into a frame.

5. Kate Bush is a musical genre unto herself . When she first appeared on stage with the great "Wuthering Heights", at 16 years of age when David Gilmour of Pink Floyd played her demo to EMI, punk was boiling in the atmosphere, times were changing , the music industry with them and the air of the era incriminated any suspicion of artistic dexterity as old and unfriendly. When Bush went to No.1 in Britain with this song in 1978, the great priestessess of punk but also the respected ones of the old order had already created unbeatable standards in their audience. On one hand there was Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell, on the other Siouxsie and Debbie Harry. In between came Kate Bush, a charismatic teenager who did not fit into any of those two camps, gave lessons of a different rivalry with the status quo. I remember the embarrassment of music critics having to rank the debut of "The Kick Inside" in some form. Some - ridiculously - lumped her in progressive rock as the aesthetics of the album cover refered semantically to dragons and otherwordly creatures with which progressive rock had been identified.

6. H Kate Bush created an archetype of an artist, so influential on the generations that followed, that you can comfortably talk about a "sweeping" phenomenon. Almost every artist of a particular aesthetic that emerges based on the essential, narrative word, has stepped on the precedent set by Kate Bush. All "narrators" that have hatched since the late 70s onward have a touch of the world of Kate Bush, often without positive results (Cocorosie, Joanna Newsom) - it is very difficult to reconstruct her overall artistic edifice. Remember Toyah. Tori Amos. Bjork. PJ Harvey. Bat For Lashes. Joan As Police Woman. Liz Fraser. Kate Nash. My Brightest Diamond. St. Vincent. Florence. The girl from London Grammar. Antony Hegarty. Brett Anderson. Rufus Wainwright. Patrick Wolf. Ed Harcourt. Hayden Thorpe... Remember whomever you prefer listening stories from their mouth set to music. Behind that is a small or larger nugget of Kate Bush. For thirty or so years, pop returns and takes prisoners from an everlasting artistic mark. Tricky said, " I do not believe in God, but if I did, my Bible would be the music of Kate Bush". And Ariel Pink dedicated to her "For Kate I Wait". 

7. As Kate Bush ages, she sounds more modern. Challenging every definition of pop music as a triumph of the ephemeral, Kate Bush has the magical ability to make music that as it gets old it simultaneously finds its place in history and sounds continuously, steadily and consistently timely and relevant, contemporary and of tomorrow. Kinda like having to always beat the banal. Her albums are the greatest example of what in discography is called "repertoire list". Consumed without a deadline. Listen, for example, today "Lionheart" from 1978. It could be a dark aesthetic current album being released by Secretly Canadian or Domino and no one would get wind that it came out 36 years ago.

8. Kate Bush writes songs to take with you to a desert island after a nuclear disaster. Songs you dance to, that you can hum. Songs that mean something to your life, that symbolize moments and feelings you have lived . Songs with exceptional heroes, with wise storylines , with impressive backgrounds. Songs that sound pop in your ears but sit like classical music inside you. Tracks that will never betray you under any circumstances. Tracks that are bold, shocking for the conservative listener (her lyrics are shockingly sharp). Tracks with ambitious orchestration, sublime synthetics, evocative in their sense. I still remember the bewildered look when I first entered the world of "Lily" from the "Red Shoes"... It starts with the ancient prayer Gayatri (an ode to the truth and the one-way of personal fullfillment) over and above pagan or theological clichés. Then, the interactive dynamics of the two heroines compose this truth into a fabulous plot: feel the 4 leading archangels to protect you from danger -Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, Uriel- around "a circle of fire and a pinch of salt "... All of this simple, understandable, mundane, into your heart, with the symbolism working every time you fear something...

9. Kate Bush is a complete artist, not only musically (composer - producer - multi-instrumentalist) and in the performing arts (actor - dancer - performer). Her muse is fully armed with the tools of literature (narrative - suspense - subversion - catharsis - atmosphere), but also the multitude of historical and cultural references with which she has enriched her music From Kathy and Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights", to the linguistic controversies about the numerous words used by Eskimos for snow, Kate Bush is an artist inspired by the timeless dramas and thoughts that trouble humans eternally. As such, she tells stories that are not about insignificant human relationships, but the ones having to do with the depth and the true essence of emotions. Kate Bush has an open ticket to greatness.

10. Kate Bush is the connecting link between all the diversities of this world. I think of all who will flock to see her in her live appearances: Fans in their forties who follow her devotedly over the years but do not feel part of any particular social group. Fifty-somethings who have not cut their ties with rock and civilisation. The bourgeoisie who feel the compulsion to be all they "must" be and will go (without necessarily having ever listened to her music). Students of humanitarian and artistic studies that have done at least one project about her. Hipsters who behave like they dive into the chromosomes of their fairytale world before they were even fertilised eggs in their mothers' wombs. Civilized progressive rockers. Metamorphic post punks who have discovered the inspiration to Florence & The Machine. Artists of all kinds (if only just for the tearful slow clapping in the encore...). Dissenters who want to have arguments afterwards to strengthen their view that "Patti Smith is the thing - no Kate Bush" (they will return to their homes with flopped ears privy to the Bush experience). Feminists. Leftists who believe in a European perspective. Rightists who believe only in the value of the "old blood" (and not new money). Aristocrats. Copywriters of any kind (advertisers and writers). Curious who want to get a hint of what this fuss is all about on social networks. Obama. The whole of the New York-based intelligentsia. People who start their sentences with "I think ...". People who start their sentences with "I feel ... ". Perhaps visitors from Alpha Centauri...