Thursday, May 20, 2010

the fabled lost album | maryjane redux

Given that Life Support has now been pulled, it might be timely to indulge in a little hospital resurrection.

'Hospital', in the legal sense: "a charitable institution for the education of the young" ; as a word, a tongue-twister for infants and those waking from a coma.

The ward has been closed. The files shredded. The beds stripped, the walls hosed down.

The euthanasia was a necessary evil. An unconscionable burden on those limited resources which maintain this site, the penny sucking machine which was a secondary server profited no one. A lamp left burning, the spiders patrolling back pages have outstayed their welcome. Let them weave threats in the dark.

In part prompted by the recent attention afforded Bomis Prendin; Notekillers; Karen Cooper Complex, it is my intention to stir some spirits. Be cautioned. The similarity begins and ends with slumbering. The Ghosts scrapings occupy a wholly different realm. A quieter den. An Indian lodge. So.

The following entry - with minimal amendments - was originally published here on August 1st, 2008.

Between 1989 and 1993 The Ghosts recorded a vast number of songs (the gathering hesitates to dub these sketches demos) on a living room installed Teac 4-Track. They never saw the light of day. The majority of those recordings were entirely spontaneous. Fueled by a seemingly endless diet of alcohol and various nefarious substances. A few of these songs - the best, though by no means the vaguest - proved oddly prophetic.

Half muttered utterances and instrumental doodlings appeared to take shape arbitrarily on tape with little planning or provocation ; fleeting snapshots etched magnetically like fragile antique photographs documented 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 unravelling like string.

The finished 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 mockery loomed in and out, something faintly malicious glimpsed over one's shoulder. It came and went. Avoided definition.

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

There was, in any event, a definitive collective 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 warrant such chutzpah. Take them with a pinch of salt. Dust off your snap-brim.

ib: vocals, table knocking;
gus macdonald: guitar;
macdonald: bass.

Chancers. Soap-dodgers.
Gibbering in the drool of Jack Daniels.
Pulling on a neck of Wild Turkey.

image top: "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)

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)


@eloh said...

I'm now convinced I've gone insane. I swear I commented on a couple of you latest entries last night.. or a few hours ago.. anyway, these were my favorites.

ib said...

Thanks, @eloh. Although. You're not just saying that because they're my songs, right ? Well. 50% mine.

Given how loosely thrown together these songs were, it's a wonder that some of them stand up as 'songs' at all. Snapshots sums them up, I think.

@eloh said...

I re-read this post and still did not pick up that it was you... I've been a bit slow in the head here ...

But I would have bought this stuff.. and I never was one to buy too much stuff.

ib said...

Well, that is vaguely gratifying. Thank you.

Not "slow in the head" remotely. The first time I posted this - on DivShare - I was kind of cryptic. I had a teacher once who used to say "it's no good playing the game unless you're prepared to enter the race."

Or words to that effect.

Well. I was the sort of kid who would enter a three legged race by myself just to trip myself up. Whatever that does or doesn't prove. I have no idea. Beyond the fact I knew the game was rigged.


You know I can never get enough of the (holy) Ghosts, even if it be but a snapshot or slapshot or siblingshot on the bleachers, preacher.

ib said...

Cheers, Nathan.

Your good self, Matt, and Brushback deduced my spectral part in all of this first time around, I recall.

The slingshot discharging.

The "preacher" part jolted me a little there. Scared the bejesus out of me. My thoughts have been returning to visions of snap-brimmed preachers all day, for some reason.

Bob Mitchum in "Night of the Hunter" to the worm from "Poltergeist".

It was an unseasonally hot and humid day here in Glasgow. I sank a bottle of cheap Spanish mouthwash earlier, but stopped before I went any further. By 8 O'Clock the streets were ringing with fighting. A teenage mother in charge of a buggy smashed a bottle in a youth's face. The guy hit the pavement and got stomped on as some other young dudes waded in to finish making a point. I didn't see if there was a baby in the buggy. Could have been a carry-out.

All day people were throwing down the alcohol like it was water.

I crossed the street and a woman came at me, mumbling.

"What ?" I said.

She looked at me with big demented eyes. Wired to the moon, except there was no moon of course.

"I'm a human bein'!" She croaked. "I'm a fuckin' human bein'..."

Like De Niro doing Jake LaMotta. Cross-dressed with Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie.

When I got back home, Rosa was on the phone to the police. She'd seen the guy going down on the pavement from our window and thought that it was me.

We can not handle the good weather. We are not built to soak up the sun.

Holly said...

These songs, snapshots, what have you, are wonderful! Thank you very much for sharing.

Any more?

Now I'm going to put on some Supreme Dicks ....

ib said...

Oh, there is certainly more. Yards of the stuff. A consultation with my primary partner in crime is in order.

Thanks, Holly. Supreme Dicks ? It is almost embarrassing just how little I've scratched the surface. Practised at doing "the floor kiss", there is still much wallpaper to peel...

I just looked 'em up. "Sky Puddle". Nice title, I've got to admit.

Anonymous said...

Ehi...i like so much this music...
what are they doing now?
i cannnot find any information about them online! :) you're the only one !!!

ib said...

Glad you enjoyed it, anonymous. The cat is always better out the bag.

Well. As I mentioned in the main post, we more or less ground to a halt before we were able to put our material out. This was in the days before home CD burning and online networking became commonplace, remember. Back then, just macking your stuff accessable cost a lot of money.

As for the Ghosts.

I am doing this. Gus is doing that.

Hopefully at some future point, between us we may get around to packaging the material and selling a small limited edition run online. Or not. Who knows.