Irrelevant Troubadour


Kate Bush, “Aerial”
November 29, 2010, 5:13 pm
Filed under: music

I’m writing this sitting on my windowsill and looking at the sun setting over gorge.  Today is one of those days that seems to be specifically engineered for beautiful sunsets: great expanses of clear sky to let the light in, but just enough cloud and haze to refract the light into a full firestorm of color.  I’m writing about “Aerial” the song, or perhaps the whole second disc of Aerial the album, perhaps because of the sunset, or perhaps because it came up on shuffle.  See how this is?  These chance events, they all fit together.

That’s sort of what the second disc of Aerial is about.  It’s, as Andy Partridge said of a completely different album, “a summer’s day baked into a cake,” but not (as Skylarking, the album Partridge was actually talking about) about the people and things of this summer’s day, or even about nature necessarily, but the sights of this day as pure, abstracted sensation.  It seems more than anything like synaesthesitic music.  The colors, the smells, the feelings of the natural setting are being converted into sounds and (to a lesser extent) words.  And the thing about all of this is that it doesn’t feel like a chaotic rush of sensory stimulus; everything is perfectly arranged, everything is in its place.  You could reject this as humans imposing their own order onto an unpredictable world, but so far what we’ve seen of nature and of the structure of the universe suggests that there mere be more patterns out there than we see.  This ties back to the birdsong samples used in much of the album; they’re something that seems chaotic and beyond human understanding, but in fact follow a strict pattern.  Also, the part in that one song where Kate imitates the bird noises is ridiculously adorable.

“Aerial” the song?  Well, that is what this entry is supposed to be about, I suppose.  By the time we get to that song (the last on the album), night has fallen, and it seems as if the sensory information we’ve been hearing for most of the album has been replaced with pure feeling and pure velocity.  It’s a song about motion, about the rush of running through fields at night, of going somewhere.  It makes sense, then, that the birdsong is replaced by Kate’s ecstatic, mellifluous, yet somewhat deranged-sounding laughter.  Perhaps (this is a thought that came to me just now, as I was writing this) this song is Kate’s dreamscape.  It’s somewhere divorced from all outside information, where all there is is the pure emotion.  That is, of course, a horrible misrepresentation of what we know about what dreams actually are nowadays (and I call myself a psychology major), but these are pop songs I’m talking about here.

The sun has set now, and I feel as if it’s best to end this blog entry before I say anything even sillier.

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