anonradio: the next generation

Background Noise: William S. Burroughs cut tape experiments, previously unreleased

Posted in Uncategorized by loops on May 9, 2009

 the link is here

this morning — Real English Tea Made Here, over three hours, three CD anthology of cut up tape pieces by William S. Burroughs on the audio research editions label . A Remarkable collection of recordings made at various locations in Tangiers and New York between 1964 and 1965.  Containing rare and unpublished material providing a valuable insight into Burrough’s methodology and constitutes an important insight into his expansion from cut ups on paper to vocal permutations and sonic explorations.  Radio is intercut with weather reports for the new York area, news reports of deaths of various forms including murders, plane crashes and foreign wars . We Will Hear from excerpts from the pieces which are up to 44 minutes in duration. The Experiments were made using reel to reel tape machines.Interestingly when William Burroughs was in London in the 1960s he met and spent time with Paul McCartney.  He was present at the recording of Eleanor Rigby.  Subsequently he gave him tuition in the cut up audio method which was then adopted by The Beatles on the track tomorrow never knows from 1966 for instance. In Late 1965 Burroughs recorded at the experimental studio of Paul McCartney in Montagu Square London.

The print cut up method was discovered by Bryon Gysin and used by Burroughs in his novels such as soft machine and Nova Express .  Of course cut up and collage originated with the dadaists in 1920s. William Burroughs audio experiments are an extension of this .

Now some from CD1:



3,23 Skidoo,up to 3’41”

Started with, using two reel to reel tape machines, reading into one and playing back another reading on the other.  Random pieces of sensational newspaper stories.  Mainly containing the number 23, a reference to the 1920s catchphrase 23 skidoo.  Recorded in 1965 in Burroughs’ New York loft at 210 Centre Street, Lower Manhattan,June 1965.

4,Are You Tracking Me,0-4’04”,19’44”-24’07”’,33’18”-37’10”

Burroughs’ readings from his short stories with random cut ins from radio news, advertisements and music from the day. From Random stations including foreign-language and shortwave static and Morse code.  Recorded at the New York loft on April 20, 1965,edit


1,Old Farmers’ Almanac,0-10’14”

Similar approach but with more layers and longer drop ins.Recorded at the New York loft,April 1965.Fragments of an English Shakespeare radio play. On Top of This are two layers of Burroughs reading from The Last Words of Dutch Shultz, newspaper disaster reports and his own texts.

2,Puertos De Les Santos,10’03”-20’12”

Another take on the same theme,possibly recorded on the same day in the New York loft.He recorded dozens if not hundreds of these.Combines New York street noise,Radio WPAT news,weather ,stock exchange reports and Vietnam  attack Reports.And more Shakespeare.


CD3 — excerpts.

1,The Piper Pulled Down The Sky,0-4’07” fade

A multilayered tape ,layers recorded in Tangier in late 1964 during recording of the soundtrack to the Anthony Balch film ‘Towers Open Fire’.Features Pan pipes,radio static and other music from Morrocan radio.

2,Wonderful Copenhagen,0-4’06”                                                                                                

more of the newspaper headlines with radio cut ins.  New York circa summer 1965.  Burroughs reads the headlines in an exaggerated dead pan voice.

3                            Towers Open Fire                              0-4’07”
This Is not technically a cut up as the cut ins are not random.  Mutter and radio static are used as sound effects.  It is really a radio play and is another reading of the text for the film Towers Open Fire.

4,We Are The Night Family,4′ 28″-end

a straightforward love story. Recorded In New York in 1964. Amongst other tape techniques it uses the technique of tape inching which involves running the tape rapidly backwards and forwards over the playback head of the tape machine.As a sound effect to illustrate the piece.