Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Kate looking beautiful, as always

I don’t think this photo needs a caption…

Kate Bush with a fabulous biker jacket

“Consider the options for a glamourous girl singer with an acute sense of melody; consider that she’s taken the riskiest, most uncommercial route; and consider whether this album should be regarded with patience and admiration, even when it occasionally slips right over the top.” ~ Colin Irwin, “Melody Maker,” September 11, 1982 (discussing “the Dreaming”)

Disclaimer: with the exception of the above quote, I am not referring to any outside sources for this…so all of this is what I think, so if any facts are wrong, it’s because I have purposely not looked to outside information.

“Disclaimer” #2: If you’re not really into Kate Bush enough to read all of my text (I went a little crazy with it), I include a couple youtube videos at the bottom…her work really does speak for itself…

I think if there is any artist out there, dead or alive, that I would love to have a nice dinner & some wine with, it would be Kate Bush.  Probably because I have sooooooo many questions for her.  But bottom line — the woman is a bad ass and to me, she has created probably the most unique and ultimately influential career path of any female artist alive today.

What do I appreciate most about Kate Bush? Her willingness to be WEIRD…or, uh, “out,” in the more jazz-oriented terminology.

I think – especially those of us in the arts – so many of us are looking for inspiration in one way or another.  And I truly find artists inspiring when they move beyond norms & stereotypes, when they create new paradigms,  and while steeping themselves in the existing ideology, they ultimately really move beyond it and develop something quite new and beautiful.

From her first record, “the Kick Inside” in 1978, Kate Bush (discovered by the always-fabulous Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd) set herself up  to be a very, very beautiful, very feminine, young, lyrical-sounding, piano-based (generally) “pop” singer-songwriter.  But holy moly, little did the world know that the innocent (and kind of annoying) “Wuthering Heights” would lead to the uber-experimental (and weird as hell) record, “the Dreaming.”  And then, of course, she put out what many consider to be her masterpiece, “Hounds of Love.”

I think Kate Bush is one of those people who can be so many things at once.  Check out the video for “Babooshka” (there are two videos out there, but I’m talking about the sexy one)….I mean, wasn’t every man (and woman) drooling over her in that?  I mean, SEX POT.  The point is, she can be that uber-feminine, sexy, beautiful gal (check out attached photo)…and combine that with a highly skilled composer and visionary who has no problem seeming totally mad (i.e. crazy & weird in the most beautiful way) in some key points in her work.  Stellar and unique and interesting and intriguing combination, no doubt.

I remember the first time I heard “Running Up That Hill.”  I was in Paul Myers’s car (drummer from “Asciento” in Boston), and wonderful & manly but sensitive Paul really liked (loved perhaps) Kate Bush.  That record, “Hounds of Love,” pretty much changed my life in a similar way that Tori’s “Boys for Pele” did.

“The Kick Inside” I bought about a year later, and it accompanied my first year of graduate school in NYC.  “Lionheart” was literally the soundtrack to Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” and “Never For Ever” was my January 2005, freezing-cold-New-York-City-single-gal record…as was “the Dreaming” — I guess both of those last two accompanied Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” and “Smoke & Mirrors.”   I received “the Dreaming” for Christmas in 2004…I believe I put it on my Christmas list, and received it from my parents.  Probably my best gift that year!

I can’t really rate Kate above Tori because Tori’s music has been my best friend since I was 15 years old…but Kate’s music has literally revolutionized the way I think & feel about music, art, and performance in music.  “The Dreaming” really blew things open for me, especially since she released the record in the very early 80s…basically when I was a baby.  I mean, that record is wicked experimental even by today’s standards.  No doubt.

Kate represents to me the ultimate combination of feminine beauty, vulnerability, and total bad ass-edness…she has no problem being weird, doing crazy things with her voice, utilizing kind of bizarre looking choreography, using unusual instrumentation, moving WAY beyond forms of typical pop songs (while still releasing so many amazing “traditional” pop songs like  “Symphony in Blue,” “Running up That Hill,” “Cloudbusting,” etc., etc., etc.)  In a way, she really transcends any sort of stereotyping.  Part of the reason I love her sexiness in Babooshka (and elsewhere…I mean, the woman is freakin’ gorgeous) so much is because she is so NOT AT ALL LIKE any of the “sex pot” (I mean the quotes quite literally here) gal-“musicians” out there today.  Ahem, I won’t mention any names, but let’s just all laugh in unison…

I think the important thing with experiencing Kate’s records (up to and including “Hounds of Love”), is seeing her perform live.  She only did one tour (in 1978 when she was only 19, which is effin’ amazing in itself), but she’s done a handfull of TV performances since then, most of which during the 80s and early 90s…I get the impression she sort of dropped off the map since then – not musically, but because she is an extremely private person.  Very respectable, I think, especially when Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode sights you as his first crush!  I swear I saw that on some VH1 special a couple years back…youtube probably.  😉  I think she was much, much more in the public eye very early in her career, and my guess is that she got a bad taste in her mouth regarding stardom.

Within her first five albums & the performances, Kate combines very, very, very dramatic performance-art-esque approaches to performing her material, utilizing dance & mime in a very theatrical way.  The costumes, the miming, the dramatic “face dancing,” etc.  She studied dance, btw, with Lindsay Kemp who also worked with David Bowie.

Another thing I LOVE about Kate Bush is her total lack of pretentiousness in interviews and open skepticism of fame and everything that goes with it.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a genuine artist (except a handful of exceptionally artistic people very close to me).

I also very much appreciate Kate’s subject matter which is hugely influenced by literature.  I recently discovered that her song, “the Sensual World” was actually influenced by the last part of Joyce’s “Ulysses,” which I have unfortunately not read, and I don’t think KB was able to get the rights from the Joyce estate.  Anyway, as someone who has always been vitally interested in personal, introspective songs dealing with immediate emotions, relationships, etc., I think the spectrum of Kate’s subject matter is so incredibly interesting.  In other words, it’s quite a bit more interesting than the things I naturally gravitate towards.

Some of my faves (i.e. tunes and/or videos to check out):

1. Army Dreamers — war protest tune, apparently she sings with an Irish accent in this one, but I can’t detect it

2. Leave it Open — “we let the weirdness in”…need I say more?

3. Sat in Your Lap — rhythmic, powerful, visceral, scary, totally bizarre…and catchy, to boot…uber scary video as well with quasi-KKK & ram’s head/faun costumes.  WEIRD.  Move over, Matthew Barney!!!! (Youtube video below…)

4. Egypt — beautiful, lyrical, sensual tune off “Never for Ever”

5. Delius — quite jarring (in a sedate sort of way) after Babooshka…soundscape sort of feeling. Romantic, dreamy, kind of weird.

6. Get Out of My House — I always wonder if Trent Reznor has checked out this song.  It has that masculine, angry aggressiveness combined with typical Kate Bush theatrics.  Apparently it was inspired by Kubrick’s “the Shining.”  Scary vocals!  LOVE this song.  It almost borders on industrial.

7. Moving — my favorite off “the Kick Inside.”  Love the piano.  Love her live performance & choreography.

8. Kashka from Baghdad – about a gay couple…fabulous tune

9. The Ninth Wave from “Hounds of Love” — that entire side is totally unbelievable, particularly “Waking the Witch.”  “Hello Earth” and “Morning Fog” are my feeling-totally-emotional-and-dramatic songs.  That’s not to diminish their profundity.  Really, that entire record is a masterpiece and I find it deeply moving.  Also very comforting.

10. Anything else from ‘the dreaming.’ The most experimental pop record I’ve ever heard.

There are a few I love off her more recent records, but I’ve been listening to the first five A LOT.

I almost cringe at the thought of dissertations, I can’t help but be curious as to who out there is including Kate Bush in their dissertation on 20th & 21st Century women & music.  The woman puts almost everyone else to shame, and I say that with total honesty.

Link for “Sat in Your Lap,” probably the most bizarre video I’ve ever seen:

Here’s a video from her 1978 tour (her only tour in fact); this predates Sat in Your Lap by about 3-4 years.  What  a transformation!  She was also apparently one of the very first to use the headset…way before Madonna, ya know?

“Get Out of My House,” from “the Dreaming.” Check out how different her voice is in this.  Crazy.

Happy Kate Bush listening!!!  🙂

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I used to view Halloween as one of the key partying high-points of the entire year.  One of my first…uh, illegal experiences, was on Halloween…circa 1999.  Alas, said view has changed.  I love to go out, I love to party (though “party” has taken on a different color as the years have gone by, and I’m happy to say so), I love to see the city in all its vivacious, ‘partying’ glory (minus the excessively drunken NYU undergradutes that permeate both sides of the Village).  But soggy fall nights are often best experienced inside my ever-cozy apartment with my cats, the jack-o-lantern inspired by Martha Stewart, some good food, some good books, my trusty laptop, and hopefully my husband who is in a state of chronically working his you-know-what-off.  I digress…

Today was brilliant!  I’m aiming for the April dissertation deadline so any and all work time is like pure gold…or like the candy corn that I was unable to find yesterday at either Duane Reade or Rite Aid.  Let’s just say it’s profoundly cherished time, particularly when I have enough motivation (i.e. am not too distracted by fall and/or general holiday festiveness).  So I finished the last (I hope the last!) of my interview transcriptions, which was an interview with the wonderful cellist-improviser Daniel Levin…if you’ve ever done transcriptions, you’ll know that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours….

I am currently working on the infamous “Tomas Ulrich chapter,” which is great fun and interesting to say the least.  His interview was/is one of my favorites, particularly because (apart from being insanely witty) he went to BU as well, and though he was there a number of years before I, had an almost identical experience regarding the joys of crack-of-dawn theory classes.  Gotta love walking down Comm Ave. in windy, sub-zero temps at 7:45 in the morning for species counterpoint, harmonic dictations, etc.!  Fun times!

Apart from that, my Halloween has included admiring the gorgeous & charming jack-o-lantern that Jason carved a couple nights ago…we copied my sister whose jack-o-lantern is inspired by the cover of the ever-enjoyable Martha Stewart Living.  I made a Moroccan chicken tagine via a recipe in the November Cooking Light issue — delicious & easy!  Just be sure to simmer MUCH longer than they suggest — you want the chicken to tenderize & that only happens with a long, uber-slow simmer.   And dump on the spices.  I don’t know why recipes are always so stingy with their spice recommendations.  Also made hot cider as I was expecting one of my best friends to stop by.

Wine buying tip for white wines: I recommend the “La Linda” viognier from Argentina.  It is CHEAP – $10 and delicious.  I’ve bought it a number of times, and it’s wonderful.  I’ve also bought the La Linda rose, which is pretty good.  Rose is absolutely not ‘white zinfandel,’ for the record.

Music-wise, I’ve been listening to “Peaceful Pat & Brad.”  I made myself a mix a few weeks ago with said title referring to Pat Metheny & Brad Mehldau.  I chose the ‘peaceful’ tunes of theirs – some together, some not – and made an itunes mix.  I think I’m going to make it into a CD to give my parents at Christmas.

Happy Halloween, happy cooking!  And best wishes for this holiday season…Duane Reade already has their Christmas decorations in stock.  Oh my goodness…time to whip out Vince Guaraldi.  😉

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So Tori is releasing a ‘seasonal’ record in November…so soon, so excitement abounds!  At first I was mildly horrified at the idea considering Tori is the fiery, piano pounding, sometimes brash, sometimes overwhelming, yet often angelic goddess to whom I’ve been listening consistently for the last 14+ years.  She is hands-down my musical idol in so, so, so many ways.  But things change & her last couple records left me disappointed after a good two weeks of excited listening…they just couldn’t hold up to ANY of her previous material.  I mean, “Boys for Pele” (imo) is the best record, hands-down, by anyone, ever.  And I think Choirgirl Hotel is not far behind that, to say nothing of To Venus & Back, etc., etc.  And I really say this with ultimate sincerity because these are records I’ve been revisiting for years and years.

But after her last couple records, the idea of Tori doing a seasonal record just wasn’t doing it for me.  A huge question mark was all I was seeing.  And i was truly horrified when I saw the pics.  (Prepare yourselves: http://undented.com/images/2391.jpg).  I mean….what is THAT about?!?!?

Nonetheless, some clips got released on the internet & I have to say, they are lovely & imaginative in a way only Tori in her middle age could be.  And I mean that with a total absence of sarcasm!  A girl on the ever-trusty, ever-sassy Tori forum (@forumz) put it very well: she said that this is Tori making beautiful songs for us to enjoy.  It’s not about her being a rock star or (god forbid) being a MILF (*shudder*).  It’s really just her doing her thing, and her thing is making beautiful music.  That sounds like an over-simplification, but that’s exactly why I started listening to her religiously when I was 15.

She’s chosen some beautiful carols, plus a few originals.  O Come O Come Emanuel is one of my favorite seasonal tunes ever & was very excited to hear she had included that.  She’s also included Coventry Carol, Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming, Light a Torch Jeanette Isabella, Noel, What Child is This, and an apparently very altered & Tori-esque version of We Three Kings (which I think is entitled Star of Wonder on the record).

Here’s a youtube collage of the clips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_VUPUhE1rI

The whole fam damily (including Gillian’s baby who is due November 19!) will be in Asheville for Christmas, so I have one thing to say to those in the family who have second thoughts about Tori: prepare yourselves!

Happy Halloween to everyone & happy Tori listening.  🙂

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Thanks to my Brazilian friend, Janaina, I got to see a fabulous dance company last night at NY City Center.  It was Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker, and it was stunning!  Contemporary dance with (what I think is) heavy classical ballet influence. Deborah Colker herself (who has a background in psychology, music, & volleyball of all things) played piano on part of the second half, and she sounded great.  She played  the Mozart piano sonata in A Major, K. 331, Theme & Variations.  There was also an interesting Brazilian-electronic (my interp.) cover of Someday my Prince Will Come, which was super cool.

I took dance all growing up, but was really the chubby, clumsy kid in the class most of the time!  (My parents sadly have some pictures to prove it).  haha…So I think one of my wishes for my next incarnation (if I have one) would be to be a dancer.  It is so inspiring – artistically, visually, FITNESS-WISE!  Sheesh, those dancers are fit, fit, FIT!   I think of all the arts, dance is the most multi-dimensional – except maybe for film.  The elements of music, movement, & visuals are all there, and really work together so intricately.  Am going to start going to more dance productions.  I think Paul Taylor company is doing some production in the city coming up…

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