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Baker's Dozen

Burn Again: Lawrence English's Favourite Albums
Kate Hennessy , November 19th, 2015 10:52

After celebrating Room40's 15th birthday, the label head and ambient composer pauses in his hometown of Brisbane to go from Swans to Japanese court music in taking Kate Hennessy through his 13 "foundational" records


William S. Burroughs - Break Through In Grey Room
I'm not sure when I first heard this recording. I think it was on a cassette copied for me by a friend. I do remember the first time I heard Burroughs' voice. I was about 19 when I started getting more interested in what Burroughs was about and what he represented. I'd read some of his books and was spellbound by this merging of reality and hallucinatory realities. A friend played me a recording of Burroughs reading in New York sometime in the '80s. It was magnificent. His voice, to this day, is one of the great voices of America - as much in its timbre as in what it spoke to. Burroughs was an agitator and a tireless critic of the middle road, the roads of mediocrity, which he remarked was almost always the fool's road.

Break Through In Grey Room captures some of Burroughs' most potent tape works. He imagined and realised the radical potential of the edit and repetition long before these modes came to be realised in sound. We're still in the process of unpacking what Burroughs represented to the 20th century and into the 21st century. His work, across media, resonates more and more.