"Experiment IV" as written by and Kate Bush....
We were working secretly for the military
Our experiment in sound was nearly ready to begin
We only know in theory what we are doing
Music made for pleasure, music made to thrill

It was music we were making here until
They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It's a mistake in the making

From the painful cries of mothers to a terrifying scream
We recorded it and put it into our machine

They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It's a mistake in the making

It could feel like falling in love
It could feel so bad
It could feel so good
It could sing you to sleep

But that dream is your enemy
We won't be there to be blamed
We won't be there to snitch
I just pray that someone there can hit the switch

They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It's a mistake in the making

And the public are warned to stay off


Lyrics submitted by Xenomorph

"Experiment IV" as written by Kate Bush

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Experiment IV song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe title "Experiment IV" brings to mind Nazi era practices.

    'Experiment 4'

    Some say that heaven is hell
    Some say that hell is heaven... (SIYL)

    Adolf Hitler: ‘By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell, heaven ... The greater the lie, the more readily will it be believed’ (Mein Kampf).

    It was '39, before the music started... (HWD)

    Operation T-4 was a program in Nazi Germany, officially between 1939 and 1941, during which the regime of Adolf Hitler systematically killed between 200,000 to 250,000 people with intellectual or physical disabilities. The T4 program developed from the Nazi Party's policy of "racial hygiene," the belief that the German people needed to be "cleansed" of "racially unsound" elements, which included people with disabilities. The killing of patients in mental asylums and other institutions was carried out in secrecy. The Aktion T4 set important precedents for the later Holocaust of the Jews of Europe.

    A picture of you, a picture of you in uniform
    Standing with your head held high
    Hot down to the floor
    But it couldn't be you
    It couldn't be you
    It's a picture of Hitler... (HWD)

    'T-4' referred to "Tiergartenstrasse 4", the address of the Berlin Chancellery offices where the program was headquartered. Operation T-4 centers were places of brutal medical experiments and mass killings of unwanted people considered a burden to society.

    Physicians, the most highly Nazified professional group in Germany, were key to the success of "T-4," since they organized and carried out nearly all aspects of the operation. One of Hitler's personal physicians, Dr. Karl Brandt, headed the program, along with Hitler's Chancellery chief, Philip Bouhler. (During the postwar 'Doctors Trial', Dr Karl Brandt and six others would be sentenced to death.) In the beginning, patients were killed by lethal injection. The damned were bussed to killing centers in Germany and Austria, walled-in fortresses, such as former psychiatric hospitals.

    KB: "We filmed in an old disused hospital, and the conditions were very cold and damp, but everyone got very involved and we had a great time..."

    By 1940, Hitler, on the advice of Dr. Werner Heyde, suggested that carbon monoxide gas be used as the preferred method of killing. Experimental gassings had first been carried out at Brandenburg Prison in 1939. There, gas chambers were disguised as showers complete with fake nozzles in order to deceive victims...

    From the painful cries of mothers,
    To the terrifying scream...

    Experiment IV is notable for featuring Nigel Kennedy on violin, who at one point replicates the screeching violins from Bernard Herrmann's famous scoring of the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho (wiki).

    This (musical) link between Experiment IV and Psycho is interesting because there seems to be a (narrative) link between Psycho and Mother Stands For Comfort.

    Has KaTe got a thing for Alfred Hitchcock, Norman Bates, Hitler, psychopathology, and Nazi Uniforms 'Hot down to the floor'? ... The Night Porter (1974) ... Abuse Attachment? ... Identifying with the Aggressor? ... Compulsive Repetition?

    At the start of the Experiment IV video, the shopkeeper of the disguised "Music For Pleasure" store is counting out fresh copies of Kate's newest single, 'Experiment IV'. The Professor is called Jerry Coe, an obvious pun on Jericho, whose walls came tumbling down at the sound of trumpets.

    'Music for Pleasure' (or MFP) was a United Kingdom record label set up in 1965.
    'Music for Pleasure' is also the name of the second album by the punk rock band The Damned. It was released on November 18, 1977 and produced by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd. The Damned is also the title of a 1969 film by Luchino Visconti, on the Nazi Party's rise to power in 1930's Germany.

    It was music we were making here until...

    The instruments on display in the 'fake' Music For Pleasure store include dijeridu, strumento da porco, balalaika, mandolin, trombone, and Kate's own Celtic harp and Babooshka bass viol...
    The KT Bush Band have obviously been making music! And Paddy has gone mad...

    KB: "Paddy played the lunatic, and in every take his sounds were just as impressive as his visuals - I wish I'd put it onto tape. He literally "threw'' himself into the part, and the crew were so impressed they applauded him - a great accolade!"

    In the Experiment IV video (1986), Paddy is seen strapped inside a straitjacket and screaming in a padded cell. The straitjacket reappears seven years later in the Rubberband Girl video (1993). In the Rubberband Girl video, Kate is seen dancing into a straitjacket and waving around like she's about to be sectioned or committed. Straitjackets are used to restrain people who may otherwise cause harm to themselves and others. Institutional straitjackets tend to be made of canvas or duck cloth for material strength. It is possible for one person to put a willing volunteer into a straitjacket, but it generally takes at least two people to jacket a struggling person.

    During the Experiment IV, the sound wave causes a ghostly apparition of a mermaid with long blonde hair (Kate Bush) to be generated. The mermaid flies around the experimental subject (Del Palmer). Then, with a kiss, the mermaid transmogrifies into a nightmarish ghoul-like spectre.

    A mermaid is a legendary aquatic creature with the head and torso of human female and the tail of a fish. Much like sirens, mermaids would sometimes sing to sailors and enchant them, distracting them from their work and causing them to walk off the deck or cause shipwrecks. Other stories would have them squeeze the life out of drowning men while trying to rescue them. They are also said to take them down to their underwater kingdoms, forgetting that humans cannot breathe underwater, while others say they drown men out of spite. The Sirens of Greek mythology are sometimes portrayed in later folklore as mermaids.

    The Experiment IV mermaid gets out and causes everyone around to drop down dead. The video ends with the 'music shop' vicinity cordoned off and 'PROHIBITED' like an outbreak of foot and mouth. At the end of the song a helicopter is heard (the very same helicopter sound heard in Pink Floyd's The Happiest Days of our Lives from their 1979 album, The Wall). At the end of the video, KaTe escapes disguised as a hitch hiker, and invites us to keep her little secret. But her wink at the end is as deadly as the mermaid's kiss. The weirdness is out! ... "But that dream is your enemy!"

    The video is vampish, ghoulish, witchy, and hints at B-movies, such as Deadly Strangers (1974) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

    And the public are warned to stay off...

    Also, as early as the 1880s, Nikola Tesla began working on harmonic vibrations. Tesla understood that the cosmic symphony is resonance. Nothing exists in the Universe that does not have harmonic vibration. Tesla even designed a small machine that you could attach to a building and it would bring the building down in a matter of hours...
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon May 19, 2008   Link
  • -1
    General CommentAnother one of my favourite Kate Bush songs and a great video too which has Hugh Laurie and Dawn French in.

    Clearly this is about the powers that be (See Army Dreamers and Breathing) doing bad things again. This time they have taken something beautiful and creative like music which is meant for pleasure - and turned it into a weapon that can kill.

    However - having something so extreme - which could make you feel like falling in love etc - will end up killing you. So like be warying of helping the government and anyone who wants to distort the good things in life because it will end up costing your own life. The experiment goes wrong but the guys at the top will get away without being harmed.

    I guess music can be a metaphor for people generally. A child is usually innocent but bad parenting or/and government propaganda can turn that child into a criminal or a soldier propping corrupt regimes. They can do violence onto others. Basically you reap what you sow.
    GaffaUKon February 24, 2007   Link

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