Something of a lost classic, Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson hooked up with William S. Burroughs in his infamous NY pad ‘The Bunker’ in 1980 to assemble these recordings: spoken-word, cut-up sound collages and field recordings abound. Dais Records are making it available on vinyl for the first time since its 1981 release, but with only 1,000 records pressed you gotta be super-quick with this one.
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One of the coolest records ever made gets some long overdue reissue treatment from Dais. Originally released on Throbbing Gristle’s legendary label Industrial Records in 1981, this one-of-a-kind classic was put together by Genesis P-Orridge and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson who travelled to Burroughs’ home and compiled and edited the tracks from the experimental writer’s vast stash of tape experiments dating back to the late 1950s.
Burroughs always gets lumped in with the so-called Beat Generation but in reality his work is darker, weirder and more disturbingly prescient than the comparatively anachronistic bebop and Buddhism infused poetics of Kerouac, Ginsberg et al. This album gives a good sense of this, with disorientating snippets of noise and jarring edits that show little regard for conventional narrative. Amidst the form-disrupting chaos we get snippets of Burroughs’ sardonic southern drawl in various settings, relaying his familiar obsessions: power and corruption; the sinister forces at the heart of governments, institutions and corporations; the quest to penetrate unseen layers of reality.
The use of the ‘cut-up’ (cutting up and rearranging text) technique, which he developed with Brion Gysin, is fairly extensive across the album, making this by far the most challenging and ‘out-there’ sounding Burroughs record. While ‘cut-ups’ are often heralded as a precursor to sample-based musics, these tape recordings are bracingly rudimentary and ultimately served as tools for the hallucinatory prose style that Burroughs developed. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Burroughs saw language itself as a virus that controls consciousness -- so that for him, the random splicing of audio/text was a way of subverting the conventional patterns of perceiving, thinking and speaking that determine our interactions with the world. In other words, for Burroughs cut-ups were not merely aesthetic games but a way of altering consciousness.
Filled with searing images that are by turns disconcerting, funny, absurd and haunting, this record is about as close as we’ll ever get to the radical working methods a rare genius.
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