Saturday, 8 December 2007


When this record dropped in 1993 Burroughs was in the best position possible to be discovered by the latest generation (Generation X) and to adopt his philosophies. With his cut-up processes electronic and dance acts appreciated the way in which his methods could be used to splice up and chop beats into cohesive and revolutionary sounds while at the same time Kurt Cobain was cited him as an influence and even collaborating with him dragging in a whole different side of the crowd (generation). Also smack had never appeared so regal or intelligent. Basically all hip people wanted to be into William Burroughs and this was easier (and more fun) than actually reading one of his books.
This collaboration with Michael Franti and the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy lent a further nod to a slightly different audience as Burroughs just ran off with the words when the tape rolled and the sonic professors followed and accompanied him on the way.
William Burroughs possessed one of the most recognisable voices anywhere and so any recording with him present is always going to stand out and often confound. Sometimes his rambles may not necessarily be cohesive but the tone is certainly stoic and defining.
My PC just crashed trying to download this album.
It’s a scatological piece of work with tracks ranging from a few seconds (the interludes) to almost sixteen minutes spread over fifteen units.
The title track is where the record begins properly rolling as Burroughs describes one of his famous centipede sexual fantasies over a trademark mid tempo hip hop drum with jazz licks dropped in for good measures. All in all it lends a very cool flow to proceedings and compliments the reading as some kind of updated Beatnik coffee shop reading, readings that ran the danger of being closed down because to accompany poet readings with a jazz backing technically made the performance cabaret and thus required a suitable licence to hold such an event.
From here Burroughs takes aim and targets Dutch Shultz and Mildred Pierce to some kind of bouncing bebop backing before slipping into Naked Lunch mode with some Dr Benway wisdom (dependence).
“Warning To Young Couples (Huntman’s Hounds)” displays a real distaste and paranoid towards dogs. Perhaps Bill got turned over one time too many by a sniffer dog or two.
In an unexpected turn of events things turn reggae on “Did I Ever Tell You About The Man That Taught His Asshole…” as “Uncle Bill” is encouraged to read more Naked Lunch over a jungle beat. The dub sure compliments such a subject as you half expect the brown note to rear its head and arise at any moment. Tolerance comes in the strangest places.
The centrepiece of the album is “The Junky’s Christmas”. Clocking in at over fifteen minutes this is a sprawling piece of prose detailing a character’s need to score at Christmas much along the lines of “The Priest They Called Him”. The track came accompanied by a claymation film produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Over the course of the track the score mixes salvation army-esqe tradition band music with bouncing bubble bass beats akin to Bomb The Bass. The mix proves a swaying and disorientating brew akin to sweats and suffering. Eventually it becomes a tale of empathy and sharing at Christmas, displaying a glowing degree humanity even amongst junkies, of honour amongst (sometimes) thieves.
The record comes to a close with “Words Of Advice For Young People” which now resembles something of a tough retort to Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” with the sickly advice now being replaced with some real world experience. However being the Burroughs’ track pre-dates the pop song by five years you can’t help but wonder if the Aussie had listened to this track first.
There is no doubting how exciting and interesting Burroughs as an artist was only how cohesive and durable his work was to newcomers. Having heard a number of his other audio releases this is where the words and sounds best collide and come together as a perfect collage to satisfy his intellect and bring in fresh blood. These tracks could be played in nightclubs (albeit ones with needles).
Thesaurus moment: annex.
William S. Burroughs
Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy
Fontana Island

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