Friday, 24 October 2008

KATE BUSH: Sat In Your Lap/ASSOCIATES: Kitchen Person




Two singles from a summer that changed everything that needed changing; sneaked previews of albums still being imagined, and songs about the chaos of finding out and knowing everything. In some 1981 ways “Sat In Your Lap” – The Dreaming was maybe a quarter completed by then, but EMI needed something out, hence the calming opposition of its B-side, a fragile but fecund version of Donovan’s “Lord Of The Reedy River” – is a more hyperactive “Computer Love”; it sees the future coming and although it protests of absence of energy or will, Kate is astute enough to know that any future worth coming will bring the knowledge to her, but wise enough to realise that the active (“knowledge is something that you never have”) has to be balanced by the passive (“knowledge is something that’s sat in your lap” and that “lap” might as well be “laptop”).

“I must admit,” she just fails to admit, “just when I think I’m king,” and there are yet more (independent) parallels with a key song from that winter, “Ghosts” by Japan, but while Sylvian’s meticulous calm freezes his profound regret, Kate is straining at her bound chair; “There’s nothing that can move me,” she snarls in a low voice pleading for movement. “But I really can’t be bothered,” she sighs as she sees the web escalating over the hill, “just gimme gimme gimme GIMMEGIMMEGIMMEGIMME!” She ends of dreaming of travel to Salisbury , to Jeddah, across the elements, in the knowledge (ha!) that she can access all of these, Huysmans-style, from her “dome of ivory.”

The song is like every 1980 UK disco hit gone wrong; warped, erratic time signatures, a groan(eth)ing drum machine ping that turns out to be Kate’s Fairlight-sampled voice, Geoff Downes’ berserk trumpet-synth static (recalling Mongs on “Little Red Riding Hood” for the second consecutive day) threatening to render the song into scarred strips of silk, and the Bush herself, screaming, hissing, smiling, winking, raging, knowing.

“Kitchen Person” converts Bush’s passive lucidity into active jumble but there is the same neck-bracing pace of elements which cannot totally be ascribed to the human hand, Billy’s voice somehow an uber-voice in the same way as Kate’s, soaring above the tattered/shattered junctions of smoothed-out discourse but eager to dive down and immerse itself in the pacific chaos of Rankine’s arrangement. All that can be discerned here are scraps retrieved from the burnt kitchen floor; a hint of Weill (“I’ll meet you at the gin house/I wasn’t walking that way”), a lot of the Mael Brothers in how the Associates make a Mael meal of this diffusely imploding music – it does feel like the Big Bang in reverse and in terms of 1981 dreamlike epicity it was only approached in quality and ambition by the Passage’s “Taboos” – and quite a bit of Barry Ryan in Billy’s crooned howls, his shrieks which represent either drowning or laughing, or possibly both, ramming himself against the ivied ramparts of this mobile mass of music; dissonant organ chords which sound like Michael Mantler’s flugelhorn/soprano sax voicings on the JCOA’s Communications, a universe wide web of interlocking xylophones, a devouring guitar sounding like Black Forest gateau ice cream being scooped up from the whale’s belly; MacKenzie all the while ranting about his “drunk parade” and, in a moment of rare and startling clarity, crying “Help me out…to be sane, to be SANE, to be SAAAAAAAA-ANE!” Set to be danced to by the legs of Bunuel goat-towing pianos, or alternately by Mitzi Gaynor on the rear cover of the South Pacific soundtrack album cloned into a million mermaids, it dredges up the wreck of the Wall of Sound (“Kitchen Person” is the afterlife of “River Deep, Mountain High”) even as all its components converge onto the song’s central square of shrug, finally resolving in one big, planet-swallowing Hughie Green grin of Stars On Sunday organ. The song of someone who’s absorbed it all, and deep to himself knows everything, but hasn’t yet worked out how to order it; the blizzard on his strangely-linked laptop converting into the life preserving waters and caramel 1967 tarmac of “White Car In Germany.”