My Favorite Album: Ellis Ludwig-Leone of San Fermin on Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 19th, 2024  

My Favorite Album: Ellis Ludwig-Leone of San Fermin on Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love”

"It's all so sonically strange and compositionally ambitious."

Jan 29, 2020 Kate Bush Bookmark and Share

There are a few formative albums that have been with me since I was a kidGraceland, Abbey Road, Odelaywhich are like old friends; and then there are albums that came along at the right time that became influentialCome On Feel the Illinoise, Is This It, Visions. But for an album that continues to challenge and excite me over many listens, I would have to say it’s Hounds of Love by Kate Bush.

The construction of the whole thing is perfect, and exactly what I still try to do with my own concept-y records, which is: front load it with bangers and then sneak in your weird song cycle at the end.

“Running Up That Hill,” “Hounds of Love,” “The Big Sky”—they all hit the marks of a great pop song; like, “Running Up That Hill” came on at my gym the other day and nobody batted an eyebut they’re also deeply weird and desolate even in their euphoric moments. Then as the album goes on, things get stranger: “Mother Stands for Comfort,” with all those crazy crashing drum samples that keep you on edge even as she’s singing about a loving parent, and then you hear her sing “mother will hide the murderer” and it’s like, “Right, ‘Butterfly Kisses’ this is not.”

The string line on “Cloudbusting” does that thing, like the horn line from [OutKast’s] “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” where it’s a repeated instrumental hook that sounds like it was written with a single finger on a MIDI keyboard, but somehow it’s so catchy and genius and minimal that it gives you just enough so you live for the next loop, like those “hint of lime” chips that keep you eating until you’ve done the whole bag.

Then Side B, the whole The Ninth Wave suite; it is just so crazy to me that she was able to put this out with a major label in 1985. I guess everybody was doing a ton of cocaine, but like, “Waking the Witch” is an insane and terrifying piece of music that, if I brought it to my label right now they would drop me before the song ended. And then there’s “Jig of Life,” which sounds like a dissociative moment at Riverdance, which by the way I’m pretty sure happened to me in Boston at the Wang Center in 1998.

It’s all so sonically strange and compositionally ambitious, and it feels like even more of a miracle when you realize she somehow was able to make this happen in the mainstream during an era when the music industry didn’t make much space for female auteurs.

(Ellis Ludwig-Leone is the main creative force behind the orchestral rock band San Fermin. Ludwig-Leone studied composition at Yale University and while in school he assisted composer Nico Muhly. Post-college Ludwig-Leone formed San Fermin and their self-titled debut album was released in 2013 to much acclaim. The expansive album featured 22 musicians, but the live band settled into an eight-piece lineup, including horns and strings. And while the lineup has morphed over the years, vocalist/guitarist Allen Tate has remained a constant since the beginning, alongside various other longtime members. San Fermin’s new album, The Cormorant I, is their fourth and a 2019 release via Better Company, Ludwig-Leone’s new imprint with Sony Music

Masterworks. As its title implies, the album is the first part of a two-part project.)

[Note: This article originally appeared in the digital version (for smart phones and tablets) of Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.