William S. Burroughs in Dub

William S. Burroughs vs Dub Spencer & Trance Hill, 2015

There's something about Burroughs that leads musicians, in particular, to return to the well, again and again. Sure, along with writers like Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, he is a touchstone of trangressive culture—though, I would argue, one actually less read than the others. His work is way more structurally challenging. That same difficulty somehow translates well to audio form. His texts can read like prose poetry more than narrative, letting it flow as sound makes his oblique meaning reveal itself more readily. 

Recordings were (at least, for a while) a crucial part of Burroughs' actual writing process. In his lifetime, seemed eager and willing to work with musicians from Bill Laswell to Kurt Cobain.There is already a sizable catalog of readings in his unmistakable froggy croak, so in that sense, William S. Burroughs in Dub is just the latest—not even the first dub take—in a series. The collection of writings here is less cohesive than others. That grab-bag quality is strangely appealing. It lets you absorb it piecemeal, if you wish, letting you focus on the works as weird little songs, rather a long single piece of reading with tangentially related music in the background.