William S. Burroughs – Let Me Hang You

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(This short review was first published in Jazz Journal in October 2016)

William S. Burroughs (voice)
Bill Frisell (guitar)
King Khan (guitar, bass, violin, synthesiser, piano, organ, drums)
Wayne Horvitz (keyboards)
Eyvind Kang (violin, erhu, shani)
El Congo Allen (trumpet)
Tony Sherr (bass)
Kenny Wollesen (drums)
Jenny Scheinman (violin)
Hank Roberts (cello)
M Lamar (voice)
Hal Willner (samples, turntables)
The Frowning Clouds: Jake Robertson (bass), Nick Van Bakel (guitar), Zak Olson (guitar), Daff Gravolin (guitar), Jamie Harmer (drums)

The Exterminator
Manhattan Serenade
Baboon
This You Gotta Hear
Disciplinary Procedures
The Afterbirth King
Lief The Unlucky
Let Me Hang You
Islam Incorporated
The Queen Bee
Clem Snide the Private Asshole
Gentle Reader
Quick
(40:55)

Ernest Jenning Record Co. / Khannibalism EJRC 122
Lawrence, Seattle, Venice, Berlin, 2015.****

Done shortly before his death in 1997, these may be Burroughs’ final recordings, however, the remarkable voice is intact: the cadence and phrasing is pure raconteur-poet, the timbre, the whining creak is seedy and depraved – perfect for the subject matter, his controversial stream of compelling-disgusting consciousness, “Naked Lunch”.

As for the music, as might be expected from the multiple recording venues, there are a number of line ups, including the likes of Hal Willner, Eyvind Kang, Kenny Wollesen, etc. The style ranges from prog-ish bombast (Leif the Unlucky) to sinister Tangier-isms (Manhattan Serenade) and more experimental drone and folk-ish airs. Add a dose of twisted blues and it’s an excellent marriage: unpredictable, atmospheric and unsettling.

“Let Me Hang You” is available from Bandcamp and Amazon: