|Studio album by|
|Released||7 November 2005|
|Studio||Abbey Road Studios|
|Kate Bush chronology|
|Kate Bush studio album chronology|
|Singles from Aerial|
Aerial was Bush's first double album, was released after a twelve-year absence from the music industry during which Bush devoted her time to family and the raising of her son, Bertie. The anticipation leading up to the album's release was immense, with press articles devoted to Bush being printed months, even years before. Like Bush's previous album, The Red Shoes, Aerial does not feature a cover photograph of Bush, but rather one that is emblematic of the album's celebration of sky, sea, and birdsong. The cover image, which seems to show a mountain range at sunset reflected on the sea is in fact a waveform of a blackbird song superimposed over a glowing photograph.
Aerial is one of Bush's most critically acclaimed albums. Musically, the album is a multi-layered work, incorporating elements of folk, Renaissance, classical, reggae, flamenco, and rock. As with 1985's Hounds of Love, the album is divided into two thematically distinct collections. The first disc, subtitled A Sea of Honey, features a set of unrelated songs including the hit single "King of the Mountain", a Renaissance-style ode to her son Albert "Bertie" McIntosh performed with period instruments, and a song based on the story of Joan of Arc named "Joanni". In the song " ", Bush sings the number to its 78th decimal place, then from its 101st to its 137th decimal place. The piano and vocal piece "A Coral Room", dealing with the loss of Bush's mother and the passage of time, was hailed by critics as "stunning" in its simplicity, "profoundly moving" and as "one of the most beautiful" pieces Bush has ever recorded.
The second disc, subtitled A Sky of Honey, consists of a single piece of music reveling in the experience of outdoor adventures on a single summer day, beginning in the morning and ending twenty-four hours later with the next sunrise. The songs are saturated with the presence of birdsong, and all refer to the sky and sunlight, with the sea also featuring as an important element. Beginning with blackbirds singing in the dawn chorus, a woodpigeon cooing, solo piano, and Bush's son saying, "Mummy, Daddy, the day is full of birds," the piece begins with an early morning awakening to a beautiful day of sun shining "like the light in Italy"; it proceeds through a visit with a painter who is working on a new piece of pavement art ("An Architect's Dream" and "The Painter's Link") and then passes on to a crimson "Sunset". The interlude "Aerial Tal", consists of Bush imitating various samples of birdsong, while "Somewhere in Between" celebrates the ambiguous nature of dusk. "Nocturn", features a pair of lovers bathing in the sea after dark under a star-studded "diamond sky". The song cycle ends with "Aerial" and its euphoric welcome of the following morning's sunrise with the refrain "I need to get up on the roof...in the sun."
In the album's initial release, A Sky of Honey features Rolf Harris playing the didgeridoo and providing vocals on "An Architect's Dream" and "The Painter's Link". Following Harris' 2014 conviction for indecent assault, his vocals were replaced on the 2018 remaster with new recordings by McIntosh. Other guest artists include Peter Erskine, Eberhard Weber, Lol Creme and Procol Harum's Gary Brooker. In one of his final projects before his death in 2003, long-time Bush collaborator Michael Kamen arranged the string sections, performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
In the 2014 series of concerts in London, Before the Dawn, Bush performed "King of the Mountain," "Joanni" and the whole Sky of Honey song cycle live for the first time.
On 13 November 2005, Aerial entered the UK Albums Chart at number three, selling more than 90,000 copies in its first week on release. In Canada, the album was certified Platinum (100,000 copies sold). On 10 January 2006, Bush was nominated for two BRIT Awards for Best British Female Solo Artist and Best British Album for Aerial. On 27 January 2006, the album went up against Demon Days by Gorillaz and Coles Corner by Richard Hawley in the pop category of the South Bank Show's Annual Arts Awards, but was beaten by Hawley. UK music magazine Mojo named it their third best album of 2005, behind I Am a Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons and Funeral by Arcade Fire. Rob Chapman, writing in The Times stated that "...its closing triptych, Somewhere in Between, Nocturn, and Aerial, represents the most joyous and euphoric finale to an album that you will hear all year."
In an article for Stylus Magazine, Marcello Carlin reflected that "Aerial was a triumph, a towering dual masterpiece arriving like a huge galleon into the shallow pool of enforced worthiness and happiness which defined that era’s pop. It sought to give new life to dead souls—whether Elvis or her own mother or even the number Pi—and found that renewed life in young Bertie."
The only single from the album was "King of the Mountain". The song makes references to Elvis Presley and the film Citizen Kane. The track was played for the first time on BBC Radio 2 on 21 September 2005, and was made available for download on 27 September. The B-side (or second track) of the single was a Marvin Gaye cover, "Sexual Healing", recorded in 1994, and was not available on any of her albums until the release of the compilation The Other Sides in 2018. The single entered (and peaked in) the UK singles chart at No. 4, and gave Bush her first top-five hit in twenty years and her third-highest singles chart placing. The song also peaked at No. 6 on the UK download chart.
As of mid-May 2010, Aerial was released for the first time on iTunes. The second disc, A Sky of Honey, now runs as one continual track, and its title was changed to An Endless Sky of Honey, with each track titles merged altogether on the sleeve. In August 2010, the CD version was reissued by Sony Legacy in the United States. The following year Kate Bush re-released Aerial alongside others of her albums on her own label Fish People, where they appeared again in 2018 in remastered versions.
In the 2018 remastered edition, A Sky of Honey was returned to its original nine tracks. The spoken parts of "An Architect's Dream" and "The Painter's Link" originally performed by Rolf Harris were removed in light of the sexual assault allegations against him and replaced by Albert "Bertie" McIntosh, Kate Bush's son.
All tracks are written by Kate Bush.
|1.||"King of the Mountain"||4:53|
|5.||"How to Be Invisible"||5:32|
|7.||"A Coral Room"||6:12|
|10.||"An Architect's Dream"||4:50|
|11.||"The Painter's Link"||1:35|
|14.||"Somewhere in Between"||5:00|
|8.||"An Endless Sky of Honey"||42:00|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
* Sales figures based on certification alone.