Whilst it may not concur with the full Derridean (is that a word?) meaning of the word, i've become obsessed with the notion of Smile as being the most hauntological lp ever (not quite) released. It's certainly the most fascinating. At it's creative genesis, Smile obsessively utilised the very height of studio technology to lyrically and sonically invoke a past that never 'truly' existed anyway. Surely that alone qualifies it as the hauntological act par excellence. However, this is just the start of the strangest musical trip of all time. Because of course, the original Smile doesn't actually exist either. Just scraps and sketches and concepts and endlessly intriguing snapshots of an artist possessed with an ambition so monstrously inconceivable that it ended up sealing it's maker in an internal hell that lasted decades. Although they're a world apart, I think Wilson was at this point in parallel with Coltrane at the end of his life, summoning every ounce of his being in an attempt to communicate (with) God.
Time (probably) passes and Smile suddenly, miraculously appears out of the blue, sans the other Beach Boys who are now either mad, dead or in Hawaii. There's no doubting it's beauty and it's brilliance but it still feels surreally incomplete, a tribute album to itself with the itself never having existed in the first place. Brian Wilson presents Smile is the entirely bizarre attempt of a man in his 60's attempting to put himself back in to the frame of mind of himself in the 60's when he quite obviously was out of his mind anyway. It's Wilson attempting to exorcise a curse he somehow placed on himself. The new Smile obsessively utilises the very height of studio technology to recreate, in fact almost pastiche, a past that never truly existed in the first place. It's function is to recreate the songs without tapping into the mania that gave rise to them in the first place thus creating a bizarre sense of dislocation. If 60's Brian is attempting to communicate with God, Brian in his 60's is trying to communicate and find the self that he originally lost back in the 60's.
You would think that the release of Brian Wilson presents would finally draw a line under the most wondrously fucked up musical story of all time. But can you actually bring closure to a story that never truly happened to begin with...?