You don't have to follow Beat literature to have some familiarity with writer William S. Burroughs, especially in his spoken word role. Performance artist Laurie Anderson collaborated with him several times, notably on You're the Guy I Want to Share My Money With (Giorno Poetry Systems, 1981) and Mister Heartbreak (Warner Bros., 1984). Bill Laswell's Material featured Burroughs reciting passages from his book The Western Lands to musical accompaniment on the album Seven Souls (Virgin Records, 1989).
Actor Steve Buscemi (who has a long history in experimental theater, along with his more high profile roles in television series like Boardwalk Empire and films like Fargo and Reservoir Dogs) and experimental guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp teamed up for the live performance documented here in 2014 as part of WSB100, New York's month-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Burrough's birth. Buscemi's narration of assorted Burroughs texts is the main focus, and his evocation of Burroughs' distinctive gravelly delivery is remarkable.
As Buscemi recites texts about writing, the cut-up technique, language as a virus, and the advantages and disadvantages of various recreational drugsto cite a few topicsSharp's guitar and electronics create an evocative background. Supportive and atmospheric, skittering and whirring by turns, it is music to set up the narration, never fighting with it for the audience's attention. Burroughs' words retain their hypnotic, hallucinatory powera power only enhanced by the backing music.
The Right Spells; The Human Virus; The Writer; Rub Out The Word; The Word Was
Flesh; Taking The Virus.
Steve Buscemi: voice; Elliott Sharp: guitar, electronics.
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