2015 playlist: Round 87 – Rob’s choice

A departure for DRC to mark the end of 2015. Instead of enforcing the traditional ‘Album Of The Year’ we were essentially able to bring whatever we wanted to fill a 50 minute slot, an idea that came from our compadres in Exeter Record Club who felt they wanted to exhibit playlists of the year rather than album of the year.

I’ll save you the usual unoriginal musing about how our listening habits are changing, but let’s note that this feels like a different approach for now different times. I bought and listened to and loved a number of albums this year, but none of them stood out as a clear record of my 2015. The majority of my listening was through spotify and various grab-bag podcasts and 2015 for me has indeed been about an evolving playlist rather than monumental records.

My full playlist of the year, compiled as it happened, is here, but boiling it down to 50 minutes left me with just 13. I paired these up thematically and then constructed a pyramid structure to support by song of the year (I’m sure you all did the same, didn’t you?). Those pairs looked like this:

Charli XCX (feat. Rita Ora) – ‘Doing It’
Grimes – ‘Kill Vs. Maim’

Pop music. I don’t know what it is any more but I know what I think it is when I think i’ve heard it. Let’s approach this from a different angle. It has been many many years since I could look a the singles chart, or a playlist put together by anyone under the age of 20, and have recognise anything at all, let alone engage with it on any meaningful level. I just don’t encounter this music any more. To be fair, or to be more precise, I don’t take the half step necessary to reach it. The music is more and more present in the same places, the same websites, where I go looking for the stuff I feel I do actually want. The poptimist school have forced a breach that seem permanent and now the reality is not just that pop music should be considered on a par with all other forms, but that some of the most sophisticated, innovative and intoxicating music being made anywhere also happens to be landing in the top 10.

So, anyway, this year I found myself hit between the eyes by a handful of pop songs, some old and some new. ‘Doing It’ was the first, I listened to it consistently through the year, I still play it several times a week eleven months after it was released. It is, in short, a banger, and this year, after all these years, it seems fine to say I love it.

The Grimes album closes the pop circle for me. I tried her earlier, critically lauded record ‘Visions’ a couple of times and just never got a grip of it. I don’t know what I expected, I don’t know what I think I got, but it never came into focus. I’ve been reliably informed since then that what she was actually doing was making pop music with an arty slant and a jewellers eye for detail. So now ‘Art Angels’ makes perfect sense. It’s razor sharp pop with lashings of artistic smarts and it also just kills. Best of all, putting it side by side with Charli XCX helps me to understand some obvious but fundamental truth. It doesn’t matter whether you got here from art school or the Brit School, playing warehouse PAs or playing the Pitchfork festival, these two songs are neighbours and stand shoulder to shoulder with each other in the same place.

Olafur Arnalds and Alice Sara Ott – ‘Reminiscence’
Nils Frahm – ‘Ode’

The two albums that I listened to most this year, according to Spotify, each more than 100 times. Both are subdued, intimate, deeply human and resonantly beautiful. ‘Reminiscence’ comes from ‘The Chopin Project’, an attempt by composer and electronic artist Olafur Arnalds and classical pianist Alice Sara Ott to combine works and motifs from Chopin with their own extrapolations, soundscapes and interpretations. The results are intriguing, involving and gorgeous, slipping between centuries, styles and instrumentation to create compositions that sound both classical and modern.

‘Ode’ is the lead track from a collection of solo improvisations played on the M370, a unique 12 foot tall upright piano. It’s careful, sparing, warm. As with much of his work you can hear the mechanism chiming, the deep humming of the strings, the breathing of the player and the ambience of the space. Most of all you can hear the lustrous sound of an instrument being explored by a minimalist master.

Father John Misty – ‘Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)’
John Grant – ‘You & Him’

Filed together under ‘Cynical Post-Pop Men with Beards’. I fell hard for ‘Chateau Lobby #4’ the first time I heard it on the radio. The heady cocktail of swooning misanthropy and 70s high-rolling singer-songwriting hooked me in and I immediately wanted to listen to it all day. So much so that the album felt like a let down. I need to give it another chance. No such problem with John Grant. ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressures’ kicks off with one of the most striking opening tracks I’ve ever heard and then goes on fully to deliver on this promise. ‘You & Him’ is the flat out funniest track, but it also neatly showcases Grant’s knack for writing an irresistible melody and delivering it with wild and heady instrumentation, in this case a rasping glam rock stomp forcing home the delicious slight of the best chorus of the year.

Vince Staples – ‘Summertime 06′
Kendrick Lamar – ‘The Blacker The Berry’

Hip-hop was vital this year and while Drake was whinging on about feeling a bit down in the dumps, Kendrick Lamar delivered a generation-defining album and Vince Staples followed shortly after with, effectively, a record that took the premise of Lamar’s last record, ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City’, of a teenager trying to navigate life in the poorest neighbourhoods, and dialled in the focus and intensity.

Where ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ is a wild-wheeling confrontation with the chaos, confusion, self-doubt and destruction set against an equally giddy musical backdrop running the range of a century of pioneering African-American music, ‘Summertime’ is an intimate, nagging, claustrophic experience, dragging the listener in close to what it’s like to be a 13-year old boy in Long Beach, California, growing up in a world that seems only to offer options of despair or destruction.

Both beautiful, both bleak, both brilliant.

Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘Sticky Drama’
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘Multi-Love’

A highly tenuous pairing under ‘electronic’ a label which hardly does either any favours. ‘Multi-Love’ is one of the hookiest tunes if the year, specifically the visciously repeatable opening line ‘Checked into my heart and trashed it, like a hotel room’, but mainly the incredible drum pattern that kicks in like John Shuttleworth going bonkers on finding a new button on his bontempi.

‘Sticky Drama’ is a completely different beast, a savagely inverted r&b punctured by the sudden arrival of the devil searching for his asthma inhaler. In his distressed songs, compressed together from the digital detritus of a diseased pop culture, Daniel Lopatin is finding new and vital ways to interpret the world around us and foreshadow the places it may be going to.

Courtney Barnett – ‘Pedestrian At Best’
Natalie Prass – ‘My Baby Don’t Understand Me’

Old tricks, new life. Neither Courtney Barnett nor Natalie Prass are doing anything particularly new, but each is breathing hot new life into old approaches. ‘Pedestrian At Best’ is THAT riff, but hooked to Barnett’s overclocked vocal rant, veering from sneering to self-doubt and packing in many of the best lines of the year into a still-irresistible 4-minute romp.

‘My Baby Don’t Understand Me’ was the first song I put into my ‘2015’ playlist. It pursues an old-fashioned approach to song-making with admirable commitment, achieving a timeless, swooning delicacy as it sweeps between phases, Prass using her beautiful voice with measure and control.

Daughter – ‘Doing The Right Thing

‘Doing The Right Thing’ is my song of the year. I don’t know whether it’s my favourite, or the one I’ll remember in years to come, and yet it stands head and shoulders about the rest. The lead track from an album that will follow next year, it is as fine a testament to the value and power of songwriting as an artform. Put simply, it deals, poetically, with dementia, but more broadly it demonstrates how words and music can combine to force a new perspective and, even if only briefly, pierce the heart of life itself. No other song came together to such effect this year.

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Nick’s 2015 playlist: round 87

1. “The Charade” – D’Angelo
2. “King Kunta” – Kendrick Lamar
3. “Black Eunuch” – Algiers
4. “Accelerate” – Susanne Sundfør
5. “Feel You” – Julia Holter
6. “Realiti (Demo)” – Grimes
7. “Dot Net” – Battles
8. “Archer On The Beach” – Destroyer
9. “Nest” – Young Fathers
10. “A New Wave” – Sleater-Kinney
11. “Play Mass” – Sons of Kemet
12. “Peroration Six” – Floating Points

As 2015 draws to a close, we inevitably turn to our ‘best of the year’ choices. Having already played the two albums that would probably have been my singular choice (Four Tet and Polar Bear), and knowing that Graham had bought no new albums this year and Tom had bought not many, I thought I’d try and give a small overview of what I’d been listening to, so as to cover as many previously untouched bases as possible. The result? A 12-track, 50-minute-ish playlist, burnt on to a CDR like we used to do in the olden days, and then judiciously ignored because we were eating curry and talking over the top of it.

My mix for DRC is a close cousin of the playlist I put together for Exeter Record Club a couple of weeks ago, with things like Polar Bear and Mbongwana Star removed (because I had played the whole album here) and D’Angelo added (because I played the whole album there). I also took out a 12-minute Aphex Twin synth oscillation, because, though it’s very beautiful, it’s very long, and enabled me to get a couple of other tracks in instead, and thus cover more bases.

Oddly enough I started the playlist with something from 2014; D’Angelo’s magnificent “The Charade” from Black Messiah, which he dropped with about 36 hours’ notice almost exactly a year ago, and thus missed out on all the 2014 lists. Is it eligible for a 2015 mix or poll? Well it’s in a lot of them, but more importantly it’s amazing, so who cares. I’ve seen “All we wanted was a chance to talk / instead we got outlined in chalk” pitched as one of the best lyrics of the year; I’m not a lyrics person as a rule, but in terms of efficiency, impact, and message, I’m inclined to agree.

“The Charade” is the first of a trilogy of tracks from American artists who explicitly addressed the broiling civil rights issues facing the country through 2014 and, sadly, into 2015 (and beyond). I’m a white man from south west England, so “King Kunta” (enormous bass groove, echoes of p-funk) and “Black Eunuch” (scratchy guitars, handclaps, gospel) are most definitely not about me and the culture I live in, but I can recognise that they are powerful and compelling. And that they move hard and brilliant, albeit in three distinctly different ways.

I’m also not a Norwegian woman, but Susanne Sundfør is, and she made a fabulous album of emotional, diverse synthpop called Ten Love Songs, of which “Accelerate” is just one. Julia Holter, meanwhile, made an incredibly mannered album of precise, sophisticated art-pop – I found it harder to love than Loud City Song, but very easy to admire.

I found it easier to love Grimes’ music, even though I didn’t hear any of her 2015 output until last weekend, when the physical release of Art Angels finally hit the shops. The demo of “Realiti” strips back some of the overloaded (but enormously fun) production ideas and sonic touches of the rest of the album, and lets the tune shine. Similarly packed with hooks and ideas was the Battles album, which seems to have been ignored almost everywhere; if anything I enjoyed it more than their debut.

Destroyer originally released “Archer On The Beach” as a single about five years ago, and back then it was a basically Dan Bejar half-singing over some ambient backing provided by Tim Hecker. Re-recorded for Poison Season, it is a wonderful, subtle, slinking piece of pseudo-jazz. I’m disappointed, if not surprised, that Poison Season is getting none of the end-of-year plaudits that fell enthusiastically on Kaputt; for me it’s every bit as good, but it’s eclecticism and lack of over-arching schtick compared to its predecessor makes it less easy to mentally categorise and, thus, appreciate.

Young Fathers go a bit Motown on “Nest”, one of the loveliest songs I heard all year, before Sons of Kemet play some thoroughly modern-sounding, African-derived, dance-influenced jazz, with tuba, sax, and double drum kits. The only band I saw live this year: a great choice.

Somehow I missed out on noticing Floating Points until this year, despite his singles over the last few years all seemingly being right up my street, and him being mates with loads of other people whose music I love (Four Tet, Sons of Kemet, etc). “Peroration Six”, the closing track on his debut album, was the first thing I heard by him, and it practically took the back of my head off. Sadly the rest of the album isn’t quite as good – the middle third goes a little too Tangerine Dream – but this makes up for it; maybe my favourite track this year.

Rob listened: Well, the curry was pretty distracting… I loved the list. It’s always a wonder to see other people’s end of year lists, especially those that you might reasonably think will be quite similar to your own until it turns out they just aren’t. It’s an old saw by now, but Nick’s list also reminds me why I love record club so much. In the venn diagram of our tastes, the overlaps may be big in absolute terms, but they are still relatively small. We’re each out there in our own orbits, occasionally brining back messages from  other worlds.

So, we ignored much of this, but I remember some. the D’Angelo track sounded much more immediate and arresting than did ‘Voodoo’ when Nick dragged us through that a year or so ago. Enough for me to definitely want to go back and check out ‘Black Messiah’. I tarried with the Algiers record in the middle of the year, but found that I liked the concept better than the music. One I need to revisit. Susanne Sundfor sounded terrific and Grimes unrecognisable, as it turns out that Realiti is not on the vinyl version of the album. I disappointment, but a nice coincidence in the context of the meeting.

Battles sounded really charged. Amazing how this band seems to have completely disappeared from the radar. Fair enough, they haven’t really crossed my mind since 2007/08, which now sounds like my loss. Destroyer doing what Destroyer does is pretty good by my estimation.

‘Nest’ was the big revelation of the night. I haven’t really tried Young Fathers, probably having made some hopelessly false assumptions about what they would be. This track sounded really great, strong, scuzzy, motown rock with melody, urgency and nagging vocal hooks. Time for me to check them out, finally.

Sons of Kemet was great too. Floating Points kind of drifted by, but in it I could just about grasp the bits that would have lodged in Nick’s particular musical medulla. the album has recnetly topped the Resident Advisor poll of the year, and in their summary they specifically mention that the bits that didn’t seem to work initially absolutely come to form a major strength of the whole piece eventually, so, one for me to start out on and for Nick to persevere with.

Thanks Nick. Here’s to 2016.

 

Marianne Faithfull – Broken English: Round 86 – Tom’s Selection

th8L08E8F7I have a few albums in my collection that do that thing where the whole work revolves (no pun intended) around one track. It may not be the best track on the album, but it centres it, acts as a focal point and can create the impression that all the other songs emanate from that source – the wellspring, if you like. A few records that, to my mind, do this thing: Astral Weeks (Madame George), Sgt Peppers (A Day In The Life), Marquee Moon (the title track), Stone Roses (I Am The Resurrection), Clear Spot (Big Eyed Beans From Venus). I didn’t think very long or hard about that list and I am sure some, if not all, of my choices are disputable but, for me, these songs do exactly the same job as Why’d Ya Do It? on Marianne Faithfull’s scathing 1979 comeback album Broken English.

I will always be able to recall the first time I heard this track. I had played the first side of the album a number of times already and loved what I had heard. The opening (title) song immediately stopped me dead on first listen. I was expecting to hear a floaty, wispy, 1960s folk-waif type of voice warbling above sparse and neatly strummed acoustic guitars. In fact I had very low expectations for Broken English…as I fired up the turntable in anticipation, I wasn’t really sure why I had bought it, other than the fact that it has a pretty unequivocal reputation. Imagine my surprise when a voice akin to a female equivalent of Tom Waits came creaking and croaking out of the speakers, whilst an early incarnation of The Knife layered glacial keyboard washes over an eerie and ominous bassline overlaid by shards of guitar set to emphasise the perilous nature of the subject material (the end of the world, of course…this was 1979, after all). The next three songs are all great but not quite as impactful. They smoulder rather than ignite but I would have been happy enough with my purchase even if side two turned out to be a dud.

Well, it turns out, that’s where the real treasure lies. The first time I played the second half of Broken English was on a sunny Sunday morning. My 10 year son, Kit, and I were in the dining room – him drawing cartoons and me pottering around. As close to familial tranquility as we come! A perfect time to check out that second side…or so I thought.

The single The Ballad of Lucy Jordan kicks things off – a sweet song that burrows its way into your psyche with repeated listening  – first time through it seems a tad lightweight but its (Dr) hooks are undeniable and soon work their way in.

For me the album just goes from strength to strength from there on. What’s The Hurry has been described as filler by some, but I love it. Next up is Faithfull’s rendition of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero – never has a plodding dirge sounded so appropriate, which is ironic given Faithfull’s aristocratic background…but surely that was the point! It also contains the first undeniable (as in clearly audible) use of invective on the album. It’s not a good word, it is used repeatedly but it expresses ire, so that’s kind of OK – I don’t think Kit clocked it anyway. Let it pass, don’t allude to it and I might just have got away with it.

Well, how was I to know what was to come! Strangely, given how closely it resembles a Grace Jones song (any Grace Jones song will do), Why’d Ya Do It shares none of Jones’ love of innuendo and suggestion (essential ingredients if you are to get away with it whilst listening with a ten year old). So whereas Kit has heard Pull Up To The Bumper on numerous occasions and, presumably thinks it about neat parking or traffic jams or some such, there’s no possible misinterpretation of what Faithfull’s getting at when she sings:

Why’s ya do it, she said, why’d ya let her suck your cock?

or

Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed.

Listening that Sunday morning, I was caught in two minds – turn the record down, or off and run the risk of drawing attention to it or let it play on and hope that the boy had other things on his mind….or hadn’t learnt any of those words yet! I can’t remember what I did in the end, but Kit has never mentioned the incident to me since and doesn’t seem to be any more traumatised than normal, so presumably no harm was done.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the track. It’s immense and incredible but it sullies the listener to such an extent that it is hard to enjoy. I’ve never heard lyrics like it and, whilst I’m sure they exist on other records, context is everything and I never expected to hear something like this coming from the mouth of the woman who, just over ten years previously, had sung As  Tears Go By as sweetly as you like. The transformation is unbelievable and surely this record could only have been made by someone with nothing to lose – a super-successful starlet of the 60s who came upon hard times, developed a heroin addiction that left her on the streets, penniless and led to the forced removal of her only child into the custody of her ex-husband, John Dunbar. Faithfull was arrested for possession of drugs in the late 60s, attempted suicide a few years later and suffered from anorexia nervosa for much of this period. To make matters worse, if that’s possible, she was vilified by the press whilst Mick and Keef perpetrated many of the same crimes but were hero worshiped in return. Not surprisingly, by the time she came to record Broken English, Faithfull was well and truly pissed off. Hence, the inclusion of Why’d Ya Do It – a song so scathing and hateful that it could only really make sense when sung by someone who had lived through the darkest of times and survived, just, to tell the tale.

So, in context, its inclusion makes complete sense, and knowing Faithfull’s back story has meant that I am able to enjoy the track all the more. Whilst it’s not surprising that the song was censored out of the Australian release of Broken English (it’s not surprising per se but it is, admittedly, surprising that this should have happened in Australia of all places!), its non-inclusion would dramatically alter the album and, I would have thought, significantly weaken it.

In fact, I now have proof that this is the case. Obviously God, or the boss at Devon Electric, doesn’t like the thought of us playing such filth at record club. I kid you not, in a moment of perfect timing to die for, at the start of the third line of the song where Faithfull just begins to warm up the lyrics, we had a power cut. But not one of those thirty second affairs. No. One that lasted just long enough to get the other three out of the house and safely on their way home to bed to dream their sweet dreams, unsullied by what is surely one of the most exquisitely foul mouthed rants to grace recorded music. It’s their loss!

Rob listened: I used to give so little time to a lot of the records I reviewed back in the 90s. Although Marianne Faithful is revered by many of the artists I hold most dear, I took against her after a couple of listens to ’20th Century Blues’, her 1997 record of songs from the Weimar Republic and beyond. Something to do with the voice (which has to be completely unfair – I would have lapped this stuff up from Tom Waits), the persona (I recall hearing her saying some stuff I found faintly objectionable, pious little shit that I was and still am) and the songs (a tough sell to a non-committed listener). Everything I’ve heard from her since has come through that stupid prism. Never having heard her in her first flush I had nothing to contrast this reinvention of her career to, so off she went into the bin, literally in the case of ’20th Century Blues’.

‘Broken English’ was a revelation. It’s everything Tom describes, but I also got a vibe from the relatively recently rediscovered ‘Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument’ a record made in the 1980s by an artist who placed his traditional instrument on top of the instruments he could find around him, in this case a drum machine and a Yamaha DX7 synthesiser, and from these disparate ingredients made something truly idiosyncratic and strangely, counter-intuitively, timeless.

Anyway, I liked this a lot and I’m actually glad it died before the last track, which sounds like it might have created an impression capable of overshadowing the rest of the work.

 

 

Kate Bush – Aerial: A Sky of Honey – Round 86, Nick’s choice

aerialAfter Tom had unleashed the theme for this meeting I had a few immediate thoughts – The Stone Roses being the primary one – but thought I’d do a bit of research before settling on something. So I asked for comeback album recommendations on Facebook and resurrected an I Love Music thread. Neither produced a single mention of this album, though, which somehow sprang to mind after a couple of days, and stayed there resolutely. In fact, it’s one of the few albums that I’ve listened to repeatedly in the run-up to a record club session. This isn’t surprising; at various points over the last decade I’ve found myself gorging on this fabulous, sensuous record at the expense of the rest of the music in the house.

(NB. Given that Aerial is a 70-minute, double-CD album, I decided to just play disc two. Because it’s amazing.)

Does it qualify as a ‘phoenix’ album? Aerial came 13 years after The Red Shoes, which, whilst hardly a disaster, hadn’t scaled the critical or commercial heights of Bush’s artistic peaks (arguably the apex of which is The Hounds of Love, still, somehow, unaired at record club. Bush followed its faintly unedifying promotional cycle by vanishing, judging by what’s offered forth here, into a decade or more of low-key domestic bliss.

Across the whole of Aerial there are songs about washing machines, raising children, painting in the garden, and skinny-dipping with your other half while your kids are tucked-up in bed. There’s also a song, on the first disc, where she literally sings the digits of pi, as if in response to some kind of music-journalistic quip about being able to make anything sound amazing.

I had the pleasure to review Aerial almost exactly a decade ago, and I raved about it then. I stand by everything I wrote; if anything, the intervening years have only made it grow in my estimation: pretty much nothing else I own sounds quite like this, or does what it does.

What does it do? Aerial is a concept album of sorts, split into two parts – A Sea of Honey and A Sky of Honey – which deal broadly with the vicissitudes of domestic life; a day in the life of a family bathed in light and birdsong, perhaps. The strict definition of the concept isn’t as important as the impression of it; it feels cohesive, like an object of gestalt with narrative flow, even if the ‘plot’ as it were is a little vague and impressionistic.

The second disc, A Sky of Honey, is a thing of wonder, that grows form modest beginnings – a prelude and then a prologue – through a flamenco / folk rumpus and then into an astonishing, visceral twilight reverie that is hinted at during “Somewhere in Between” and explodes into life through “Nocturn” and the album’s incredible closing title track. The final two tracks run into each other, and combine to make a quarter of an hour of the best music I’ve ever heard, an organic, rapturous party, at once intimate and expansive.

Sadly, the spectre of Rolf Harris hangs over Aerial; he plays didgeridoo and narrates a track, much as he did earlier in her career. His presence leaves a faintly bad taste in the mouth these days, but the quality of this record is such that his involvement can be looked over; he is a very minor part of proceedings indeed. Nevertheless, Aerial is one of the very best records I ever had the pleasure to review.

Rob listened: A great choice for the theme. As for the record… more or less ‘yes’ to most of the above, but somehow I still don’t quite get it, at least not 100%. I think Kate Bush is fantastic, but I just don’t get a rush from a lot of her music. She’s an absolute role model to rock stars, doing everything on her own terms, guarding her privacy, focussing on the work and balancing this admirably with family and life in general. I tend to like and appreciate whatever I hear of hers, but there’s something between me and her music that prevents me from diving in.

I hadn’t heard ‘Ariel’ properly before. I liked a lot of it, particularly what I think was the last track which built subtly to the point of being overwhelming . Much of the record however just seemed to drip with dog-whistle signifiers of ‘quality’, akin with records people seem to like because of the way they sound rather than what they do to them. That’s all fine for people who get off on that sort of thing, no problem from me, on you go. I just don’t have those buttons.

Tom listened: I guess I fall somewhere between Rob and Nick in terms of my feelings for Aerial – if Nick is 100% on board and Rob is 75% then I guess my percentage of ‘onboardness’ would hover around the 90% mark.

As I’ve written on these pages, my admiration of Kate Bush runs deep. The Dreaming is one of my favourite albums and I love Kate the person almost as much as the records she has produced – visionary, uncompromising (in the best possible way), slightly unhinged (in the best possible way) and totally and utterly genuine. What’s more, she makes amazing music.

However, when I cast my eyes over her discography, there is only the one disc that I would call completely, classic (although I haven’t yet acquired, or even heard, Never For Ever which is silly considering it is the album that comes immediately before The Dreaming and holds Breathing, Babooshka and Army Dreamers which already makes it half a classic). Up to The Dreaming, Bush was finding her way, incredible tracks sit side by side with the flotsam and jetsam of a young mind throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the mix, playfulness at the expense of consistency. Since The Dreaming (even on, whisper it, The Hounds of Love), Bush has been gradually shaving off those rough edges, polishing the diamond until it gleams so bright that it takes the breath away. And that’s where Aerial’s at – a beautiful piece, especially the second disc (which is by far my favourite of the two), stunningly performed and arranged, exquisitely produced but lacking those splinters that, for me, made her early work so compelling.

I don’t want to be overly harsh on Aerial though, if I want a breathtakingly enjoyable 45 minutes I can’t think of many better ways to do it…although, as Nick has mentioned, the use of Mr Harris’s voice throughout a A Sky Of Honey does detract a little in these post Saville days!