William S. Burroughs’ early experimental tapes being released on vinyl
The great post-modern American author William S. Burroughs is one of the great weirdos and experimenters of his time, and that extended beyond his writing. The author of Naked Lunch also made a number of experimental audio projects, including early pioneering of cutting up and rearranging vocal recordings that, while central to a lot of experimental (and, really, non-experimental) recordings now, was quite new at the time.
Now some of that material just got a vinyl release for the first time (and really its only release at all, save for an extremely limited CD run in the 90s). You can order the LP, which is called Curse Go Back, here. The release also features some rare photos of Burroughs that were taken by his friend Harriet Crowder during a drug experiment in the mid-60s. Below, you can listen to a track from the album and check out a more detailed description of what the recordings consist of.
Curse Go Back is a collection of tape experiments from William S. Burroughs. Burroughs was in and out of London from the mid-50s to 1974, and towards the end of this period he occupied a flat near Piccadilly for several years. During this latter time he developed and refined the techniques he used for creating cut-ups on tape. Working closely with Ian Sommerville, who helped acquire – and no doubt maintain – the various tape recorders that Burroughs used and abused in these experimental works. The work here is in two sections, which in their original form lasted for over an hour and first appeared in 1998 under the name Electronic Revolution as a free CD with Issue One of the French magazine Crash. The CD was quickly withdrawn, with perhaps only 100 copies finding their way into circulation. This edition is edited down to 46 minutes and comprises the core of the original recordings. It employs the now familiar techniques of random drop-ins and cut-ups of readings. The readings themselves are also cut-ups of words on the page. The first section of the tape uses further processing by means of a second tape recorder. Recorded in Duke Street in 1968, the tape was then passed on to Brion Gysin in Paris where it remained in his archive until 1998. This is the first readily available edition of a hypnotic and meditative recording that examines the hidden power of words, in a form that’s closer sound poetry than anything literary. The album includes an insert with an essay by Ben Harper and several previously unseen portrait photos of Burroughs, taken by Harriet Crowder in her Hammersmith flat during a drug experiment. The back cover uses another Crowder image – the very next frame after the famous shot that appeared on the cover of the English Bookshop/ESP Call Me Burroughs LP (1965). Pressed at Optimal on transparent vinyl. Edition of 500 numbered copies. - (via Boomkat)
Burroughs would go on to release many other recordings, including 1990's Dead City Radio which featured collaborations with Sonic Youth, John Cale and others. You can listen to that below as well.