Friday, August 1, 2008

ghosts: the fabled lost album (maryjane)

"fleeing a dust storm". farmer arthur coble and sons walking in the face of a dust storm, cimmaron county, oklahoma.
arthur rothstein, photographer, april, 1936.
(library of congress)

Between 1989 and 1993 The Ghosts recorded a vast number of songs (the group themselves would hesitate to dub these sketches demos) on a living room installed Teac 4-Track which subsequently never saw the light of day. The majority of those recordings were entirely spontaneous and fueled by a seemingly endless diet of alcohol and and various illicitly obtained nefarious substances. A few of these songs - the best, though by no means the vaguest - proved eerily prophetic.

Half muttered utterances and instrumental doodlings appeared to take shape arbitrarily on tape with little planning if not provocation ; fleeting snapshots etched magnetically like fragile antique photographs for posterity. Again, given their spontaneity, few seemed to benefit from subsequent reworkings. Repeated attempts to improve on the quality of those original scribbles resulted, at best, in yet more songs broadly hinted at ; at worst, in dead-ends frayed like unravelling string.

The fully fledged painting resisted editorial conceit.

The words 'ether' and 'happenstance' were increasingly employed with banal regularity, even as those more detailed aural pictures revealed themselves in unfolding events. The spectre of laughter seemed never far from present - like something faintly glimpsed over one's shoulder - but whether that might prove even tenuously rooted in the benign or malevolent was anyone's guess. It came and went like a sprite and avoided definition.

A pillow of moss ; a sliver of tears ; a broken pocket watch.

one of a series of working cd images ; more at some later date.

There was, in any event, a definitive group of five persons involved. Sometimes just three. Frequently a pair. As time went by, the most naked of those sketches, quite possibly, were fathered by only two. They felt themselves to be diviners of curiosity rather than serious musicians.
And then they just grew tired.

The following 'snapshots' are Begg & MacDonald compositions, if they can truly be coined as such. Only take them with a pinch of salt if you can locate nothing stronger.

THE GHOSTS: NEW BAPTIST (DUST BOWL) from "The Lost Album" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1992 (UK)
THE GHOSTS: SISTER LINO from "Hitler's Watercolours: 56 Gower Street (1989-1993)" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1992 (UK)
THE GHOSTS: PONY NOSE from "Hitler's Watercolours: 56 Gower Street (1989-1993)" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1992 (UK)
THE GHOSTS: UNICYCLE from "Hitler's Watercolours: 56 Gower Street (1989-1993)" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1993 (UK)


Unknown said...


Brushback said...

Yeah, awesome stuff, ib.

ib said...

Matt: thanks, pal. You must be back from Wisconsin, I take it ? I'll be dropping in over at your place soon to leave a comment or two. I noticed you'd posted some great songs while I was away, including Wire's "Three Girl Rhumba". One of the best bands ever, I feel.

Brushback: Cheers. I appreciate your comment, dude.

I am guessing the two of you have tumbled to the fact that I have/had a special vested interest in the Ghosts by now. If I were to expand a little on the "prophetic" nature of some of those songs I mentioned in the post, I guarantee it would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up straight.

Very weird things, indeed. Sadly, the Ghosts were cursed almost from the very beginning by a mixture of crippling shyness and creeping inertia.

Peewit said...

Welcome back Ib. I know you were back yesterday but I was out with the kids at, of all things, a Malaysian Festival! (it is amazing wherever you go in the world the violin seems to be integral to indigineous music0

I love these songs. I trust that wasn't Francis (Frank) Macdonald of the Teenage Fanclub BMX bandits et al?

ib said...

Thank you, peewit. The Malaysian Festival sounds cool.

No. Not Frank Macdonald. TFC/ BMX Bandits are very highly respected round here, however, I must add.

The Ghosts were Ian Begg/Gus Macdonald/Fiona Macdonald/Ken Warner et al. If you download the tracks individually you will be in possession of the details.

ib said...

See. That's what happens when you sign in while more than half cut. I deleted that last comment, because I was beginning to sound like Dan Brown.

The Ghosts co-existed with TFC certainly, but they kept a much lower profile as their name suggests.



No, wait.
This is the shit!
I dig this the mostest.
Got any more?
Happy trials,

ib said...

nathan nothin,

your enthusiasm for those MP3s converted from deeply dusty reels has been duly noted. Thanks! There will be more Ghosts forthcoming at some future date, providing I don't keel over with an aneurism in the interim.