William S. Burroughs, the iconic progenitor of the Beat movement, and infamous drug addict, did number of spoken word recordings in his life. He often worked with the artists collective GPS, and recorded for The Dial-A-Poem Poets. And he's featured in a couple of Weird Retro posts, in regard to his spoken word recordings. Most notably his work from 1993, which produced both A Junky's Christmas (on the album Spare Ass Annie And Other Tales) and his collaboration with Kurt Cobain that same year, on The "Priest" They Called Him. However among all his spoken word recordings, the one that has garnered a cult following, and is one of the most difficult to find on vinyl is Nothing Here Now But The Recordings.
During many conversations and letter between the two, Genesis brought up Burroughs's "tape recorder experiments". Burroughs thought no-one would be interested in a record of the tape recorder experiments, but after 7 years he caved, and handed over box after box of reel-to-reel tapes. Hours and hours of tapes from the 50s and 60s. Genesis and Sleazy poured over the tapes, listening to each one, noting down what they were about. Most where a mash-up of cut-up snippets of conversations, Burroughs talking into the microphone, bits of music, radio noise, all kinds of sound bites. After they finished, Burroughs asked whether they wanted to catalog the rest. They agreed, and they travelled to his home in Kansas where he had a room full of boxes of tapes. They spent two weeks, going through all the tapes.
Now they had the material, they wanted to make an album of them, choosing the best, cutting them up, stitching the pieces back together. Cherry-picking from the never heard before "tape recorder experiments". At the time, Burroughs had fallen out of favour with the literary and art community. His books were out of print, people has lost interest in the Beats and in the work of Burroughs, particularly the artistic technique of "the cut-ups". A style of art that has since gone on to be a central part of modern media, movies, music videos, commercials, all manner of pop culture owes its roots to the cut-up technique that the Dadaists pioneered in the 1920s, but Burroughs made popular in the 1950s and 1960s. If it hadn't have been for the persistence of Genesis, and the members of Throbbing Gristle's desire to immortalise the tape recorder experiments, these seminal cultural artefacts may have been have been lost forever.
The subsequent album that came out, Nothing Here But The Recordings was released in 1981, and has since become one of the most highly regarded and sort after of Burroughs recordings. Re-released only once on a CD collection by GPS in 1998, it has remained out-of-print, and not available in its original vinyl format. This month Dais Records have released a limited edition (1000 pressings) remastered from the original tapes vinyl of the album. A rare opportunity, to own a rare piece of literary, and experimental avant-garde art history.