letmehangyouWilliam S. Burroughs: Let Me Hang You

(Ernest Jenning Record Co. / Khannibalism)

LP/CD/DL

Available 15th July

7/10

Using recordings of William S Burroughs reading extracts from his seminal nightmarish trip into Interzone, Naked Lunch, and now backed with extra music by famed musicians King Khan, M Lamar, the Frowning Clouds plus more Let Me Hang You brings to life the depraved beauty of Burroughs’ words. Simon Tucker reviews:

1959’s Naked Lunch is deservedly considered a masterpiece. Burrough’s vignettes (or routines as he called them) are a gut-churning, slash and burn attack on the senses. A difficult read, graphic, poetic, full of amphetamine zeal and junkie sludge, it is a book that sears itself onto your consciousness. A book that once read will never be forgotten and has the power to force your dreams to turn into nightmares.

Now with these unearthed recordings we get Uncle Bill himself narrating passages whilst accompanied by a suitably myriad styles of music. We get inflections of jazz, avant-garde noise, ambient washes and traditional folk BUT the star of the show is, quite rightly, Burroughs’ own vocals.

Burroughs’ voice is dripping with the extremities of life. It is a voice that is lived in, a voice that can be incredible soothing one minute then croaky and fear inducing the next (you can hear his influence on Genesis Breyer P.Orridge throughout). Above all of this though is how bloody hypnotic his voice remains. Like his writing style, Burroughs’ voice draws you into his vision of the world whether you like it or not. You are sucked in to the depths of glorious depravity with phrases and words stabbing your frontal lobe.

Much akin to the experience you have when reading the book, it  is not sentences or paragraphs that linger but clusters of words placed together in his (and Brion Gyson’s) cut and paste style. We get “Purple assed baboons on a golden chain”, “supersonic judo”, “vaginal grip” and tales about “tall thin Norwegian’s” (Leif the Unlucky). Listening to Let Me Hang You makes you doubt your own moral compass as you willfully wallow in the muck and spunk of the narrator William Lee’s gutter and drug infused tours.

Let Me Hang You is a wonderful listen though the music is quite superfluous. That’s not to say the music is bad but it really is just a slight glue that holds the tapestry of Burroughs’ voice and words together. A full unaccompanied reading would be welcome but until we can hear that this will do nicely.

Welcome to Hell, it’s lovely down here.

~

Let Me Hang You will be available via Ernest Jenning Co.  or via Khannibalism

All words by Simon Tucker. More writing by Simon on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Simon on twitter as @simontucker1979

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