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Kate Bush picks it up in 'Aerial'


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The British singer/songwriter Kate Bush hasn't released a new album in 12 years. But that hasn't kept her name out of the music press.

Critics have regularly invoked Bush's distinctive soprano voice and the lush, ethereal style she introduced back in 1978 with the single Wuthering Heights in describing other quirky alt-pop darlings such as Bjork and Tori Amos. The list of musicians who have cited Bush as a source of inspiration is even more diverse.

"People like Outkast have made very nice comments," notes Bush, 48. "And my friends have been telling me for years how they hear my influence. That's the best thing you can ask for."

But Bush admits that she herself "doesn't listen to a lot of contemporary music. That's quite deliberately so when I'm working on a record myself."

And despite her decade-plus disappearance, Bush has been working lately. A two-CD set, Aerial, was released earlier this month, and she describes it as part concept album, part "straightforward" song collection. The decision to record two separate discs stemmed from her 1993 release, The Red Shoes.

"In hindsight, I think my last record was too long," Bush says. "Some of my better songs were on it, but they got lost. I was trying to give people as much for their money as I could. But people have very short attention spans now. It seems everything is just a moment away from the fast-forward button."

Bush had begun writing songs that would eventually appear on Aerial's first disc, A Sea of Honey, when the idea emerged for a conceptual work about, of all things, birdsong. "That's a theme I've wanted to play around with for a long time," she says, explaining the origin of the second disc, A Sky of Honey. "Once I got the conceptual piece off and running, I started to like the idea of having two separate atmospheres."

While Bush had planned to take some time off after Red Shoes, the path to Aerial proved longer than she had anticipated. "Since I was 17, I had been just making records and promoting them. I wanted a break. I spent more time with friends, went to see movies, just got on with my life. I thought at first I would take a year off, but it turned into a very long gap."

Part of the reason for that was the namesake of a song on Sea: Bertie, Bush's 7-year-old son by her longtime partner, guitarist Danny MacIntosh. "I have a little boy, and I wanted to spend a lot of time with him," Bush says simply. Pressed to elaborate on the joys of motherhood, she demurs: "I have to watch myself, because I could talk about (Bertie) all day."

The singer, who has been described as reclusive and rarely performs live, allows that her maternal responsibilities make the possibility of a tour even less likely.

"I don't have as much time now because I've got other things to think about," Bush says. "We've got a lot going on based around where we live, and we don't want to disrupt that."

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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