Kissing the Bald Spot (2002)
ostensibly a collection of out-takes and one-offs that i finally compiled in july of 2002 — or so i thought — this manages to work surprisingly well as an album. weirdly enough, it might even be one of our more consistent cds.
while gord and i were trying to figure out what we were going to do after the death of guys with dicks, i thought i’d check out some of the unused tracks from the PAPER CHEST HAIR sessions, because there were quite a few things we had recorded that didn’t end up on the album. i was stunned by how good some of them were, and i couldn’t believe i hadn’t deemed them album material in the first place. i guess there were simply too many songs, and i chose to eject some of the stranger things we had recorded instead of putting together another double cd. we also recorded a lot of things later on that never ended up on any proper albums because GWD had all but taken over, and some of the last papa ghostface songs ever recorded are here.
c’mon is as fitting an epitaph as one could ask for. it’s somehow one of the most menacing things we ever did, with just an acoustic 10-string guitar and gord and i singing. i’m playing with delay in real-time to make it sound at times like there’s more than one of me, and my scream at the end is still one of my favourite things i’ve ever done with my voice. gord scared the hell out of me in the middle of the song when he started singing while i was in the middle of my brain trance, snapping me out of it momentarily, hence my cry of, “oh, jesus! jesus christ!”
the rest takes in everything from becalmed instrumentals (xmas on venus, which borders on new age music with my impressionistic piano and gord coaxing some truly alien sounds out of a synthesizer, and leaving home with a pickle in my pocket, which sounds like happy campfire music), to a song about holding a man hostage in an abandoned warehouse, feeding him stale bread, surgically removing his feet and then forcing him to eat them (eat it up), to the self-explanatory mama had to kill me (’cause my hair was too long), another one that was written as a country song and morphed into something quite different at the recording stage.
in hindsight, the ending of that song’s descent into explicit sex talk paves the way for what was just around the corner with the explosion of late-period guys with dicks (mama was recorded only a few days before the first session for SUBLIMINAL BILE, which helps to explain why gord says hello to his mother and then invites her to do something dirty at the beginning of “ring around me”; he was quoting me). there’s also gay animal rights, which is the closest i ever came to writing a protest song, and all profits generated by the single were used to aid the sexually ambiguous animal coalition (SAAC).
mannequin is another one of those messed up long songs of ours that’s difficult to describe, sounding something like what the brain of a chihuahua might look like while in a coma brought on by drug-induced psychosis, and featuring the long-overdue reappearance of gord’s gourd — a strange little instrument that looked something like an indian guitar with dental floss for strings, which had only ever been used on one PG song before (the title track on SCREAMING NIPPLES). even the stuff that’s sort of throwaway, like the fragment she tries to hide and my ten-second guitar riff that ends the album, all seems to fit.
things like the street that got laid and knife fucking chocolate aren’t fully-formed “songs” in the proper sense, but they create a mood and explore it, which was something i often found more interesting than just setting up marks and hitting them at the appropriate times. for instance, i’ve always kind of dug KFC [knife fucking chocolate] (the profane disambiguation was created as an intentional perversion of the kentucky fried chicken acronym), even though it’s little more than a groove, a riff and some vocal nonsense. gord’s phased-out guitar is the sonic equivalent of having peroxide poured into your ear, i like my funky bass line, and the vocal insanity near the end takes the song somewhere else entirely before it simply disintegrates.
for years i thought this album was complete as it was, with the sequence i put together in the summer of 2002. a few songs recorded for CHILDREN HAVE NO EYES were mixed and included, and it would be a while before i finally put what there was of that ill-fated album together properly once and for all. when that happened, it no longer made any sense to me for any of its songs to be hanging out on a papa ghostface cd.
still, dropping them would shorten the album. and if you follow my music at all, you know the words “short” and “album” don’t often go together for me. there were other papa ghostface out-takes, to be sure…they just weren’t up to par with what was already here, or else the sound quality wasn’t quite up to snuff and they weren’t in any format allowing me to remix them. it seemed like this cd had reached a bit of a stalemate.
then i remembered a one-off recording gord and i did in late 2002, tentatively titled “the magic fatty”. an attempt to create a weird spoken-word piece in the classic PG style hadn’t quite worked out, and the music hadn’t felt interesting enough to justify making the whole thing an instrumental affair, so it was relegated to a backup cd, unmixed and remembered as a half-baked idea with its promise never really realized. in the summer of 2010 i figured i might as well mix the thing just to have it in a form i could listen to, and i was flabbergasted to discover a track that once seemed half-baked now sounded like an off-kilter instrumental up there with our best work. i wasn’t even remotely expecting to like it as much as i did. this made me rethink the whole album, and i decided i would re-sequence it accordingly, with the instrumental now the title track (a papa ghostface album with a title track?!).
i think the whole thing flows much better now. while it’s more a collection of songs than one organic whole (probably to be expected when the material comes from different places over a two-year period), i feel it’s more than worthy of being considered an official part of the PG cannon — i’d even put it up there with the likes of PAPER CHEST HAIR and SHOEBOX PARADISE. you’ve got some of the best instrumental pieces we ever recorded, a few tracks that are strangely accessible, at least one extended foray into sonic madness, a few mood pieces, and a few of our best songs no matter what you want to call them. in short, it’s a good cross-section of some of the places we had been, and some of the places we might have gone, if our two-man operation had stayed in business. about the only thing missing is the obligatory spoken-word piece, and c’mon more or less fills that void while also morphing into very much its own thing.
all in all, i think this makes for a satisfying ending to the PG story, even if it was ultimately pieced together posthumously. mark my words — someday, knife fucking chocolate will be played at weddings.
kissing the bald spot
xmas on venus
gay animal rights
eat it up
the street that got laid
leaving home with a pickle in my pocket
knife fucking chocolate
she tries to hide
mama had to kill me (’cause my hair was too long)
johnny’s fuzzy riff