Friday, 2 March 2012

Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow

Back in ancient times, during the decade that fashion forgot, or the 1970s to give it its proper title, I’d read all the music press on a regular basis – no mean feat as the amount of paper produced by the music press in those days was considerable – and I’d wonder.  I’d wonder how reviewers could really get under the skin of an LP (for it was LPs in those far off days) after a cursory play or two.  It was my experience that new releases were a minefield of pitfalls (to thoroughly mix metaphors).  You never knew which way it would go.

There were those that would leap off the turntable (an ancient music retrieval system, M’Lud) after a single play, filling you with the certainty that another purchase was going to join your list of great albums only to find after the third play you’d be bored stiff with it and that it was really a tedious sheep in a vibrant wolf’s clothing.  Others, of course were the reverse.  I have many an album that failed at the first hurdle yet, assuming I’d bother to persevere, would sneak up on you and make itself utterly indispensable.  So, I return to my question: how do reviewers know which way to jump after only a short period of acquaintance?

I’m having that trouble with Kate Bush.  Only worse.  It’s her latest offering ’50 Words For Snow’ that is causing all this musing and stopping me from writing an erudite and informed review.  The truth is; I just can’t make my mind up even after more plays than your average reviewer would ever have the privilege of hearing.  At first, I thought it disappointing, then it began to sneak up on me in the time honoured way, but now I’m beginning to get a bit bored with it again – but interspersed with bits where I can’t help feeling, ‘that’s quite good…’.

For those who need to get up to speed, ’50 Words For Snow’ comprises 7 fairly lengthy piano based ‘songs’.  I say ‘songs’ advisedly as one of the problems is the lack of melody.  Each piece seems to comprise a meandering vocal line against a jazz-tinged backdrop.  Each ‘piece’ therefore has a ‘mood’ rather than a melody.  Which is OK, but is very much dependent on the listener’s acceptance of the ambience, which can change from day to day, hour to hour.  You don’t get these problems with melodies.  Either you like them or you don’t.  And there lies the conundrum.  Therefore, my considered opinion is that this is an album that defies traditional review because its impression varies with time (and probably mass as well).  It is more than likely the sort of album that Einstein would’ve enjoyed.  So I’ll hand you over to Prof Brian Cox to tell you whether it’s any good…


Kit Courteney said...

Martin, you are always 'erudite and informed' even when you think you're not.

Your reviews have turned me both on and off to various artists (had to word that carefully) and I think that's saves me from listening to sh*te!

I know which category this is in already - and that's from someone who counts 'Cloud Busting' as a favourite of all time.

music obsessive said...

Kit - you're right, of course. And Cloudbusting would be on my list too. Oh well. Oh, and thanks for the kinds words, also. :)

Adrian said...

Perhaps it's a matter of... there's no business like snow business.

music obsessive said...

Adrian - Ho Ho! Haven't heard that one for a while...but the music does tend to drift along. :)

Adrian said...


If you are to do a pie chart, note that here in Canada, perhaps in England, too, there is sold something called an "Eskimo Pie" - which is vanilla ic-cream between two chocolate wafer-soft layers. These come in round or rectangular form!

I've yet to hear Kate's newest and, so, will have to do that before I can comment more substantially :)