Sunday, 29 January 2017

Oliver!: Daisy Chainsaw - Pink Flower (7 March 1992)

I'd heard Daisy Chainsaw on a couple of Peel shows prior to 7/3/92.  I thought the name was ingenious, but while the thrashy Sick of Sex and the psycho-rockabilly of Love Your Money had their  moments, they didn't have enough of them to interest me into keeping them.   Pink Flower finally breaks through the wall and as is common in such cases, once one gets through, I've suddenly found myself appreciating a lot more of Daisy Chainsaw's work.  However, "work" seems a disappointingly pedestrian word to sum up their extraordinary sound.  It might be more appropriate to say that Pink Flower is the point at which Bjork and Kate Bush intersect.  An extraordinary alchemy of mental disintegration, frenetically decadent vibes and a speed-zombie walk into a grave that pushes up those pink flowers.  I've linked to the video, because Daisy Chainsaw were blessed with video directors that clearly "got" them.  There's no playing instruments in a white room for them, instead the visuals accurately produce what the music suggests: nightmarish banquets populated by House of Usher guests leading to a woozy, hallucinatory walk in the woods.

The song is essentially in two movements starting out with a thrash-rock first minute or so in which KatieJane Garside, whose vocals work as almost a separate instrument in their own right, is sitting waiting for the sun to rise, because after all, any pink flower needs sunlight whether it be to grow or to replace the clouds in their own psyche.  Around the 90 second mark, the sunshine arrives and the song changes tempo - slowing down but peppered with feedback and guitar squalls.  It sounds like a dream state but I read it that the thrashy first half is the one set within the unconscious, especially with the line about lovely people being in her dreams.  When things slow down and Garside's vocal takes greater prominence, that to me, is her awaking from the sanctuary of sleep and having to grope blindly into a world which she is unprepared to deal with and isolated within.  The video rather ladles this on with the shot of a patch of ground, big enough for a body to fit into, being dug.  The allusions to walks in the countryside are familiar tropes in tracks of this kind - a search for an Eden to restore body, mind and soul.  But the final collapse into breathless vocal exhaustion from Garside underpinned by that heartbeat bassline leaves me unsure whether she found Eden or was just another pink flower crushed under the hob-nail boots of a relentless world.  The fact that she declares herself not ready to let go of her earthly life, offers hope for her and for us all.

The aforementioned Love Your Money delivered a Top 30 hit for Daisy Chainsaw.  A throat infection  for Garside prevented them from performing it on Top of the Pops.  Had a wider audience been able to see this extraordinary band in live form might it not have gone on to make Pink Flower into one of the most extreme Top 40 hits ever?  Astonishing stuff.

The effect it would have had on me had I seen them at 16 would have been electrifyingly strange and a portent of my own immediate future.  In March 1992, with me still at school, I was surrounded by everyone dressed in uniform, slightly preppy in the way that school shapes people.  By the end of the year, I was in college, studying a performing arts qualification, and while I still dressed like I did at school, I was surrounded by people who looked like they were members of Daisy Chainsaw.  I didn't submerge myself in that strangeness, but to be around it was wonderfully liberating.

Video courtesy of kinburst

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