I have been living under a rock. How come I never knew of Kate Bush? Seriously, I have only just heard my very first Kate Bush album and I’m blown away with the sonic masterpiece that is 50 Words For Snow.
I’m sure there are a plethora of exceptional artists that I have yet to personally discover. In-fact, it would be an impossible feat to experience the work of every artist, in one’s lifetime. There is just so much talent, yet so little time to enjoy the music. Therefore, it is a precious moment when a new artist is found and added to the existing music library.
Knowing absolutely nothing about Kate Bush presents an interesting way to appreciate and review her music, as I’m not coloured by any preconceived ideas of musicality. I came across 50 Words For Snow when simply browsing one of the online music retailers in Australia. It is akin to crate digging in the digital age and I was simply drawn to the cover.
One of the first things I noticed, when looking for the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi, was the length of the tracks. These are not short songs and that is sometimes cause for concern as artists often expand a good song, for no good reason. Excessive verse or chorus repetition; not to mention self-indulgent solos, does little to impress this reviewer. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here. Every song is balanced and none feel like they should be shortened. Each track, whilst independent of each other, merges perfectly in the album format.
I also don’t recall really hearing anything similar to the style of music Kate Bush has created with this album. Enya's work springs to mind, but Bush has such a unique sound that I don’t feel she would have many contemporaries. Perhaps I just need to look more into the art pop et al genres; certainly I’ll be looking deeper into Bush’s discography and will be able to form a more conclusive opinion in due course.
While I am blown away with the mastering that is presented via TIDAL Hi-Fi, I have also ordered the vinyl release. One thing to note is there is a US and a UK pressing of this album. Based on a number of unverifiable reviews, the US release is rather noisy in comparison to the UK pressing. Hence, I ordered the UK pressing and will have my fingers crossed for a nice silent release. This album really doesn’t need excessive vinyl noise distracting the sonic depth that is present in the music.
Based on a little research, I understand that the album, and associated songs, have been written, and recorded, with the backdrop of snow as the merging theme. While there is very little snow in Australia, I can’t confirm this correlation with the music but, I can say that the music can be appreciated in any weather condition. However, I must admit that the haunting sounds do cause a feeling of isolation and separation from the world that could be associated with snow; or even night time. Without a doubt 50 Words For Snow is a sonic masterwork that reaches far into the senses of oneself and takes you on an emotional journey.
As I continue to play this album repeatedly, each listen introduces new elements that I haven’t experienced before. This is an album you will want to listen to with the best speakers or headphone setup you own. In-fact, as good as my main stereo system is, headphone listening truly allows you to hear more of the music. One example of this can be heard on the track Wild Man. At the beginning of the song, wind is blowing and you can feel the wind in your ears when listening on headphones. It is incredibly dimensional and makes for a wonderful headphone experience.
Unlike many of my other reviews, I’m not going to dissect this album track by track. The reason for this is I believe this album should be experienced as an ‘album’, not as separate songs. This kind of approach to listening to music predates music in the digital form whereby vinyl, and cassette, predominately demanded that the listener listens to the album as a body of work, rather than the individual songs. Yes, history repeats itself and I am well aware that the single song predated the album format, but trust me when I say there isn’t a bad song on this album and you will not regret spending 65 minutes simply listening to this album. Take the time and enjoy the experience.