Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hounds of Love



'Hounds of Love' from 1985 remains reclusive British chanteuse Kate Bush's most realised effort, an ambitious, experimental yet accessible collection of forward-thinking art-rock pieces that instantly became the magnum opus of her career. It rightfully became Bush's first number one album on the British charts, and spawned a series of hit singles that all made it to the Top 20, and also became firm fan favourites. It's worth any self-respecting music student's time to go over the original tracks to discern how Bush effectively harnessed her creative energies to create such a tour de force.

'Hounds of Love' kicks off with the propulsive 'Running Up That Hill', a driving rocker with a kinetic rhythm that builds up to a strong climax. The nervy title track is up next, a leftfield pop number with an orchestral tinge, while the expansive 'The Big Sky' is as wide-screen and cinematic as its title suggests. The measured 'Watching You Without Me' is a diversion into angular electro-pop, while 'Under Ice' is a shimmering neo-classical showcase, anchored by dramatic violin pizzicatos.

'Mother Stands for Comfort' provides a moment of solace in the scheme of things, before the pace picks up again with the richly textured 'Cloudbusting', a hypnotic mantra that is anchored by an insistent cello-driven melody. 'And Dream of Sheep' is a quiet Celtic-informed ballad, while 'Waking the Witch' is a piece of intentionally complicated art-rock. 'Jig of Life' is a jocular knees-up of a song, living up to its mirthful appellation, and 'Hello Earth' is a bagpipe-permeated seven-minute epic. The closing 'The Morning Fog' makes for the perfect coda, a carefully contented, brightly coloured celebration of life and all its diversities.

So, even if Bush is blissfully enjoying the fruits of her labour these days, content to languish in semi-retirement, she can rest easy, for 'Hounds of Love' has long ago cemented her name in rock-music history. This is, by all means, an outstanding 1980s-era art-rock classic, and solid proof of Kate Bush's innovative and singular artistry.

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