All 14 entries tagged Kate Bush

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February 02, 2007

Another Day (1979) video by Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel

Writing about web page

I think this is something really special. Discovered recently on YouTube, a special performance by Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel of the song by Roy Harper, with a powerful undercurrent of emotional tension. I was only 8 when this was recorded. I have a vague childhood memory of Kate Bush being quite scary. Which I think was probably true, despite the vegetarianism (cue Hitler reference). She is now, of course, entirely child friendly.

Note the use of a pre-recorded video on the screen behind the kitchen table. Quite an innovation in 1979. It mirrors the live performance, but with subtle differences – they are for example wearing smart clothes in the video. This gives the sense of the domestic reality being doubled somehow. Is that doubling the past? The future? Memory? Fantasy? Reality? Whose reality? Whose fantasy?

And then there’s the line in the song, sung by the male character, about the female character being entombed and inaccessible. Metaphor? It’s such a dark and powerful lyric. Very Kate Bush.

July 04, 2006

The power of Warwick Blogs 2

Writing about Google results from Blogbuilder news

Yesterday at 5pm I received an intriguing phone call thanks to Warwick Blogs. Yet another example of the benefits of expressing ideas in a system that attracts such a high Google ranking to one's posts.

He was, I immediately understood, a researcher from a television production company. They are in the early stages of developing a documentary about birdsong. It seems that they are interested in questions concerning the role of birdsong in art and music. The very interesting David Rothenberg provides the starting point, but the researchers are discovering many connections, including Paul Klee's twittering machine, Deleuze and Guattari's Of The Refrain, Olivier Messiaen, and of course that magnificent song cycle Aerial by Kate Bush.

So, TV researcher, what then is your method? Try these Google searches and instantly see the power of Warwick Blogs:

The interview was fascinating. He asked about birdsong and philosophy. I talked about Of The Refrain and the role of sound, rhythm and birdsong in D&G's philosophy. He asked the big question: do birds sometimes sing just for pleasure (yes was my answer, but justified by an argument concerning the limits of biological functionalism and the drivers behind evolution). I talked about nocturnal birdsong as a penetrating a–visual deterritorialized refrain, and how the refrain works as a minimal and portable germ of territory carried across night and day (and how that idea drives Aerial).

All of these ideas I have developed in my blog. Some of these ideas may soon in some small way help to shape a television documentary that promises to be fascinating. All because I use Warwick Blogs.

December 25, 2005

Birdsong and laughter quote from Kate Bush

Writing about web page

Kate’s A Sky Of Honey (the second CD in Aerial) is “full of birds” – the songs of which repeatedly run across and along the music and words throughout: a real “twittering machine” (Klee). Here’s an intriguing quote from a recent interview:

“I was also trying to draw a comparison between the two languages—it struck me that laughter has got this sort of connection [with] the shapes and patterns and songs of birdsong.”

Having spent the day with a 4 month old boy, i get the point (extraordinary laughter, crying, all kinds of vocal modulation, stutterings, explosions, murmurs – primitive and expressive).

Here’s some notes on this connection…

1) flows interrupted and modulated (into rhythm, and recursively into rhythm interrupted). Laughter is a breakdown in functional discourse. The breakdown often occurs in tandem, or in mass, but with no goal other than the breakdown itself. Similarly, in song the birds break from their productive tasks (contrary to popular belief, birds often sing without the goal of attracting a mate or establishing a territory).

2) the body as an instrument to produce the flow and its modulation and breakdown. Minimal, personal, portable, irrepresible. Requiring neither technical nor social apparatus in support. Even operational when little else remains. But at the same time may act as a trigger to others, connecting up distant unknown bodies in the darkness, penetrating barriers. Or at the least, echoing back to the body of origin, providing a point in time to which a subsequent response can be made. The “refrain” of A Thousand Plateaus.

3) refinement, the emergence of styles (one body/voice refining itself, or a flock of bodies and voices). But always guarding and retaining the closeness to the body. Portability and reconstruction from near zero conditions, but open to connections and forming trigger response partnerships beyond the body.

November 21, 2005

Aerial by Kate Bush, a Deleuzian review by k–punk

Follow-up to Music Review: Aerial by Kate Bush from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Always interesting blogger k-punk has posted a review of Aerial, the new Kate Bush double CD. His message is the same as mine: this is a really fascinating and complex record, coming from a writer with a special perspective on life, creativity and the world.

I like this description:

Deleuzian MOR: a numinous, luminous twitterscape of women-animal becomings, a hymn to light, and lightness.

Of course we don't need to suppose that she actually reads Deleuze (although I wouldn't rule it out). More importantly, she seems to have a deep insight into how artistic creativity works (and sometimes doesn't). Obviously that comes from being a compulsive and quite ambitious composer of soundscapes and words. But Aerial goes further, showing a reflective and very clever mind extending that understanding out from music and narrative to light, colour and the inhuman (animal). It's the relationship between these aesthetic planes that gives A Sky of Honey, which k-punk describes as "her most painterly record", its power and fascination. This is aesthetics as carried out reflectively by an artist. And she knows it – her interviews, including the recent Mark Radcliffe interview, contain indications of this.

And what does this mean for Deleuzians? If you actually listen to what artists have to say about how they work and the material of their work, you will hear Deleuzianisms. That's not because they are necessarily Deleuzian, but rather, as in this case, that Deleuze and Guattari really understood art and aesthetic creativity.

Deleuzian Kate? Perhaps Bushian Deleuze.

k-punk's review is also worth reading for the artworks with which he illustrates it

November 14, 2005

Travel Report: Seville, watching the painters painting

Follow-up to Music Review: Aerial by Kate Bush from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

As I wrote in a previous entry, the songs on A Sky of Honey by Kate Bush remind me of a trip that Em and I made to Seville a few years ago. A great city, combining mellow cafes and gardens (al Andalus) with flamenco passion and colour. Here's a few photos. More can be seen in this gallery

Watching the painters painting:

If you go to Seville, spend some time in the gardens of the Real Alcazar, a moorish palace complemented with a rich garden of fruit, marble and water:

The architecture of al Andalus:

Rich in gold and blue:

And I must mention the sausages:

And oranges growing everywhere:

November 08, 2005

Music Review: Aerial by Kate Bush

5 out of 5 stars

This is a magnificent work. One reaches the end of the CD, all seven fascinating, complex, rich, colourful songs, and then you remember that it includes a second even more stunning set of nine songs on the second CD.

Like many people, I have spent twenty years listening to Kate's 1985 work Hounds of Love, especially the Ninth Wave suite of songs that make up its second side. And even now I occasionally find new subtleties. That was and still is a real adventure in sound and words. It was the best of Kate's work, perhaps because it takes an arrangement that always works to great effect (Kate, piano, and an ensemble of some of the best classical, folk and jazz musicians), and punctuates it with uncanny unexpected sounds and narratives that are completely new and unheard. Beauty and recognition right alongside and seeping almost indiscernibly into dark humour, horror, terror, loss, madness, and quite often a becoming-animal with which she has happily bewildered an unsuspecting pop world (finally Front Row have acknowledged that this isn't pop). Listen, for example, to the utterly bestial human-donkey braying at the end of Get Out of My House from 1982.

There is, as I think Kate has indicated, a continuity between Aerial and Hounds of Love. This time she gets a bit more time and space to play with (12 years, 2 discs, and a really nice CD case and booklet). All of the above mentioned characteristics are there. Joanni, for example, in which Joan of Arc is reincarnated from myth to real complex sonorous woman. Listen to the strange obstinate vocal towards the end.

I'm not going to give a summary or critique of all of the songs. More importantly, a suggestion of how to listen to this music. For a start, recognize that it's very expansive, much more so than her last two albums, and certainly more so than any other current songwriter. So don't expect to get the whole story in one go, or perhaps even in twenty years. But you will still get instant gratification. There are sounds and ideas in here that will hit you instantly, and stay with you for a very long time. Listen lots, and listen carefully. And do read the lyrics. They are quite obviously the product of a writer, not someone hooking words onto sounds. And then watch out for and consider the surprising ways in which the words and music negotiate with each other: the innovation, the real magic is in the often difficult relationship between narrative and sound, almost (but only ever almost) to the point at which it falls down.

I wrote some time ago about painting and chaos - the haptic physicality of the hand and the brush, the diagram that is the brush stroke marking out a concentration of light, world, body, eye, mind etc. And then also how, as Deleuze argues in Logic of Sensation, music takes off from painting - colour becoming disembodied in sound and penetrating surfaces (and identities), finding a line of flight, going further than light, which is subject to shadows and the phases of day and night, but at the same time (especially in nature, birdsong) dependent on and anticipating light. Sound carries through the darkness, and as in the Ninth Wave, is a defence against and means of reterritorializing darkness: a refrain as D&G would say.

The second CD, A Sky of Honey, does exactly that. It is a passage from day through sunset, a nocturn, and back to morning. From the chaos, colour and chance of a painter. Through colour's dissipation into sunset, and its preservation in the night sky, and then back again with sound (the song of birds) anticipating the return of the morning light (see an earlier entry on the refain and birdsong via Olivier Messiaen).

I said there is deep complexity in this music. But I also said that you will get instant gratification. A Sky of Honey gives exactly that. It is thoroughly gorgeous – like Seville, of which it reminds me (watching painters in the gardens of the Real Alcazar, sitting in mellow cafes, being invaded by wild flamenco buskers). You will be overwhelmed with the beauty of the sounds and the words. I am.

Ask me again in twenty years, i'll still be listening then.

If you are interested in discussing this entry, then please contact me

October 31, 2005

Music Review: Sunset by Kate Bush from Aerial

Follow-up to Aerial fragment, transversal birdsong from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

What an absolutely beautiful sound. At the moment, after just one listen, that's almost all I can say. Simon Mayo just played this track on the Radio 2 album chart show.

Who was it that wrote that song of summer? The blackbird sings at dusk. This is a song of colour.

Overwhelmingly perfect piano and bass combination. Eberhard Weber I think. And the transformations between sounds and rhythms are wonderful. The shift up tempo, as the spanish guitar joins in, is both gentle and racing at the same time.

There's something painterly about it. Turner seascape painterly.

The Aerial double CD will be released on Monday. Kate will be on Front Row (Radio 4) on Friday evening. More of the tracks have been played on the radio today. The Kate Bush News web site has links to streams.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Sunset has now displaced You Want Alchemy as my favourite song.

October 27, 2005

Aerial fragment, transversal birdsong

Follow-up to King of the Mountain – Kate Bush from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

I just recieved an email containing a link to a stream playing a small fragment of the forthcoming Aerial by Kate Bush (out 7th of November). This is going to be quite fascinating.

The stream seems to have been taken from the more "abstract and conceptual" of the two discs, A Sea of Honey (not at all like the current single release). It is accompanied by an animation based on the CD cover, which features a golden sea scape with a waveform stretched across the middle looking almost like a row of mountainous islands reflected in the water.

The clip starts with a repetitive piano riff (think Olivier Messiaen), which is then overlayed by a short sampled birdsong riff (definitely think Olivier Messiaen). The animation makes it clear that the waveform is that of the birdsong. And then a line sweeps across the screen, very much alien and intrustive to the natural image, reminding us that it is a composed image – or perhaps the waveform is sweeping through the line. In any case, the coherence of the waveform is deflected outwards, throwing out fragments that morph into a flock of birds. And at the same time, the sound of the bird song is transposed into a more human, infant sound.

Intrigue: see the clip.

Messiaen was fascinated by birdsong; he considered birds to be the greatest musicians, and considered himself as much an ornithologist as a composer. He notated birdsongs worldwide, and incorporated birdsong transcriptions into a majority of his music. Wikipedia entry

October 06, 2005

King of the Mountain – Kate Bush

Writing about web page

5 out of 5 stars

Always predictably unexpected and unpredictable. Kate again makes great music. Difficult to classify, by definition. A slice of a drama that overflows the song itself. I'll be listening to this for a very long time.

Superb. Dramatic as expected. Dark, very dark humour. The sound is even more voluptuous than ever, matching the depth and intensity of the words. And the subject: celebrity, identity, Citizen Kane, Elvis: a huge drama, both deeply painfully personal, and in an other world altogether – the world in which Elvis dances on his own grave. Keep listening. I will, and it will keep growing in depth.

May 16, 2005

The guide and the explorer concept

Follow-up to Spirit and the virtuality of concepts and their personae from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Thinking about my lost friend, I realised something important about myself, and about one of the impulses that could be a powerful driver behind events in the world.

I discovered something in me that is much more powerful than I had expected – a trait that perhaps determines the choices that I make, my actions, the things and people that I value.

There were many reasons why my friend was so great. But one thing, at least right now, stands out from the rest. The world was to her a constant source of wonderment, of fascination. She had the kind of mind and attitude to the world that is increasingly rare. Disturbingly rare. She had a way of just experiencing things as they were, and of always seeing something bright and sparkling. Certainly she was someone who had grown up in a world without special effects, in a world from which Hollywood was barred. And then in England, being an alien (in fact she said that she felt foreign everywhere), so much was genuinely new and strange. But her inquisitiveness was never just the effect of a lack of belonging, of always being abroad. It was a powerful and genuine trait in her way of living. A way that could exist anywhere, that could connect with anyone.

This to me is the most important trait in others. It is something that attracts me to people: my wife the infant school teacher, Ted the travel writer, Gilles and Felix the philosophers, Kate who writes strange songs from all kinds of odd sources, and Mari the adventurer. And perhaps it is why I like foreigners in England more than I like the English, even more than the eccentric English (and their fake difference). Deliberately leaving one's own culture, the place of mundane sense. What an amazing thing to do.

So why am I still here, in England, in Coventry? Strangely, even as a child, I would fantasise about aliens and ghosts. Not in a menacing or confrontational way, but rather as friends. I still often wonder what it would be like if some historical figure were to be sitting next to me now, looking in amazement as I explain the glowing moving screen covered in text and images in front of us. Or how it would be to tell Thesiger about the Iraq war, or T.E. Lawrence about modern sports bikes. I have these strange ideas all the time. You see the trait that I value in others is the wonderment and openness of the traveller, the explorer. But what I like myself is to be the guide, to be the one who leads the other to those experiences. Now I know that one thing that I have lost with my friend is someone who really appreciated me for doing that. But I've lost even more. This concept of being 'the guide' also implies a care and a knowledge of the place through which the guiding is happening. I have lost any reason to care about, to know what is valuable, in my world.

So the concept that I have discovered is this. The pairing of guide and explorer is a powerful one. But not in the obvious way. It is the guide and their territory that benefits, that makes sense and value by bringing the explorer into it. Maybe it is this 'guide' that drives adventure, exploration, deterritorialization.

February 02, 2005

Barking mad for Kate Bush

Exciting Welsh guitar band The Futureheads have released a cover version of Kate's Hounds of Love, the original of which was itself beyond enthralling. In an interview with the NME they identify the highly innovative structure of the song as being one of the characteristics that drew them to it. And that to me is a very interesting point.

It is a song with which I am very familiar, and still enjoy listening to regularly. But that does not mean that I find this new version to detract from my relation to the song. It really does add to it in surprising ways. Effectively what has happened is this. They have taken the song, its structure and elements of its sound, deterritoritorialized or abstracted those elements, and passed them through their own complex musical machine, their own textures, rhythms and group dynamics – applying a different 'slice of chaos' or set of selective forces to it.

The song is so strong that it passes through chaos, a zone of indiscernibility between Kate and the Futureheads, and emerges on the other side intact, with its habits and distributions of intensity recurring – added to positively. What a creative synthesis!


Plus the video is also great, in a different and related way to the original.

August 12, 2004

Mark Radcliffe, Kate Bush obsessive

Writing about web page

You see, i'm not the only one! Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe has undertaken a campaign for Kate to appear in public on his show. That may seem about as likely as Lord Lucan reappearing, but as I can personally testify, he can often be seen playing roulette at the Grand Palms Casino in Gaborone. So it must be possible.

Mark has created a 'bushometer' recording recent sitings and evidence for the existence of this mythical beast. Several explanations for her prolonged absence have been raised, including the fact that she is in hiding due to the policies of her father George W. You can vote on some of these theories at the above web page.

Also – i've never listened to Radio 2 before. Am i getting old?

June 19, 2004

A tale of demonic possession, obsession, and erotic fruit

5 out of 5 stars

OK, first of all I should admit to being a Kate Bush obsessive of almost Alan Partridge proportions (listen to his tribute to Kate ). If anyone wants to hear my warbling rendition of Wuthering Heights, then just buy me lots of drinks. So the fact that it has taken me 11 years to really start liking and understanding this CD is significant. That's almost as long as the gaps between her recordings.

Some of the tracks just work straight away. Eat The Music, as has been documented elsewhere , is a witty and bouncy song about the way in which music and desire opens people up, no matter who they are. The fruit metaphors are amusing, and make for a quite stunning video. It's also about the vulnerability of the performer as they let themselves be opened to the audience. And that's a theme that punctuates the rest of the CD.

Recently, whilst reading Deleuze's book on Francis Bacon, I really understood for the first time that there is something quite interesting about dance. It sits uncomfortably and excitedly between two quite different aesthetic orders: painting and music. These two powerful forces both possess and animate the dancer. The title track, The Red Shoes, is about that fulcrum of forces. She should know about that, having been trained to dance by Lindsay Kemp. The hour long movie that accompanies the CD (The Line, The Cross And The Curve) stars Kemp alongside Kate and Miranda Richardson, and itself captures the position of the dancer with both comic and tragic effect.

So finally after 11 years what do I think? It is a really great CD. It takes a bit of work to appreciate it. But is worth the effort. And furthermore, both Prince and Lenny Henry sing on one of the tracks, so that's worth it in itself.

Of course being a true obsessive I can't give this anything less than 5 stars!

May 15, 2004

Me and my dissolute existence at Warwick University

Response to prompt "About me" (View all responses or all Transversality - Robert O'Toole responses)

This is a response to a blog prompt question posed by Kieran, a new feature that we have added to blogging. So I'm writing this not out of outrageous vanity but just to test the system out. Really. Just to test the system out.

My life and interests (in brief)!
Studied pseudo-scientific nonsense (psychology, sociology, media) before starting at Warwick, initially doing open studies courses, then a degree in philosophy (obviously). Got a First, co-edited ***Collapse magazine with Robin Mackay , never really understood Deleuze and Guattari. Co-wrote Deleuze And Philosophy (ed. Ansell Pearson) with many others who probably didn't understand Deleuze and Guattari. Almost started PhD, ran out of money right away. Escape attempt 1: completed Artificial Intelligence MSc at Sussex. Escape failed, returned to Warwick to do PGCE in IT. Escape attempt 2: taught in Kent for 2 years. Nearly returned to Warwick, but only got as far as Oxford University. Worked there in E-learning for 2 years. Attracted by huge salary in The City to work as a consultant for an international criminal conspiracy. Fled the crime syndicate 2 months before the FBI moved in. Returned again to Warwick as a programmer. No more escape attempts. Now operating as E-learning Advisor for the Arts Faculty. I have lots of money and no spare time, but will have another go at the PhD.

What inspire and motivates me
My wife Emma, my adopted Romanian daughter Mari (OK, she is 24, so I can't really adopt her), and Kate. And of course the need to understand Deleuze and Guattari as an ethics of non-deterministic causality.

My values
An ethics of non-deterministic causality? And BMW GS motorcycles of course.

Why the University is lucky to have me
It's not. I just can't escape from the place and now consider it home. So I suppose I really do care about it.