It has been twelve years since we last heard from the influential British songstress Kate Bush. A large number of eccentric female musicians, ranging from Tori Amos to Bjork, owe Bush a great debt of gratitude for helping pave their way. After taking a break from music for various reasons, including the birth of her son Bertie, she has returned with a double-disc album titled Aerial. The album is split into two sections, "A Sea Of Honey" and "A Sky Of Honey". Starting with the first section, the disc opens with "King Of The Mountain", proving within seconds that Kate has still got it. Beginning with rolling, staccato keyboards, Bush's vocals kick in and are as strong as ever, as she picks an unlikely subject for her story: Elvis. One of the standout tracks from this portion of the album is "Joanni", with a melody that looks back to finer melodic moments on The Red Shoes, using lush keyboards to support the most important instrument of all, her voice. "A Coral Room" ends this disc with nothing more than Kate and her piano, an emotional tribute to her mother, which sounds a bit reminiscent of her heartbreaking "This Woman's Work".
Switching discs to "A Sky Of Honey", we experience the true genius of this album, a beautiful concept piece broken down into nine sections. Diehard fans have been waiting for this since she gave us "The Ninth Wave" on her groundbreaking album Hounds Of Love. As this disc takes us from sunrise to sunset, exploring various musical genres such as pop, classical and even a bit of jazz, we get a true glimpse into the creative mind of Kate Bush. The string arrangements on "Sunset" soar as the song climaxes into a near-flamenco beat filled with handclaps and a strumming acoustic guitar. "Somewhere In Between" shows Kate exploring the world of electronic music, adding a touch of drum & bass to this chilled out gem of a song. These musical movements seamlessly flow from one to another, occasionally separated by moments of the chirping of birds (which include Kate's voice as well). Few artists can pull of this much material on one release, especially when it involves a concept album. Whether singing about mathematics ("Pie"), the sensuality of housework ("Mrs. Bartolozzi"), or the love for her son (“Bertie”), Kate's world is a truly special place.
Aerial is the masterpiece by one of the finest musicians of our time. This is a magnificent body of work that is easily one of the finest albums I have heard in years. Lets just hope that we don't have to wait another twelve years for her next musical creation.