The opening track, “Running Up That Hill,” converts an up-tempo 1980s pop romp into a ponderous and tender ballad. It floats freely until the last two minutes, when it ramps up to a chugging pulse with the introduction of the lyrics, “let’s exchange the experience.”
Bleckmann’s “Suspended in Gaffa” stays true to the original with its bouncy meter, and with the vocal’s almost creepily exaggerated joy. Bleckmann’s arrangement, however, has a jazz-inspired groove with a push of intensity thanks to repetitive Steve Reich-like piano lines. The groove periodically gives way to a less driving section made up of sustained notes in the vocals and violin, suggestive of the suspension alluded to in the song’s title.
Theo Bleckmann’s music is often described as unclassifiable, and this is in large part due to his ability to fuse genres. He improvises, yet not in a jazz style. He sings rock music, but with pristine diction and with classically trained affect. The music of Hello Earth doesn’t fall into a single category, but often borrows from distinct styles.
The introduction to “Saxophone Song,” for example, is up-tempo jazz swing. The opening “Ha’s” in “Cloudbusting” are a reference to Laurie Anderson’s 1981 song “O Superman.” On Hello Earth pop, rock, punk, jazz, and classical music are sewn together seamlessly.
Bleckmann achieves the ultimate success with Hello Earth. On one hand, each of the songs on the album sounds just like the original. On the other hand, each is somehow unique and independent. The music belongs not only to Kate Bush, but to Theo Bleckmann.
March 13th, 2012 on Winter and Winter
- Theo Bleckmann – Vocals, Electronics, Toys
- Henry Hey – Piano, Harpsichord, Fender Rhodes
- Caleb Burhans – Electronic five-string Violin, Electric Guitar
- Skuli Sverrisson – Electric Bass
- John Hollenbeck – Drums, Percussion, Crotales