Anthony Burgess

Conversations with the Anthony Burgess cassette archive (1964-1993)
Anthony Burgess
Conversations with the Anthony Burgess cassette archive (1964-1993)

REAL HORRORSHOW 2LP set raiding and re-interp'ing the intimate domestic audio stash of arch-ranter and A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess - its uncanny assemblages of spoken word, found-sound and air-curdling ambience sitting somewhere alongside the werk of Lambkin/Lescalleet, Olivier Brisson and Mike Ratledge's Riddles of The Sphinx. 

The first disc showcases verité voice recordings, answerphone messages and musical sketches captured by the late Burgess's late second wife, Liana, who carried a recorder with her AT ALL TIMES - leaving behind 1000 tapes' worth of material (you can imagine Tony, with his famously high opinion of himself, thinking his every last prrrrpppp worthy of documenting). Piss-abouts on keyboard and guitar, excerpts from a lecture on morality in art, mock sales pitches, discussions of The Beatles and Shakespeare, play-acting in French, snatches of mundane chit-chat and room-hum - it somehow amounts to far more than the sum of its parts, and exerts a chilly hauntological grip on ye... perhaps it's the tape-hiss, perhaps it's the unguarded, eavesdropped feel of things, perhaps its just my rotten hangover, but listening to it now I REALLY FEEL LIKE I'M COMMUNING WITH THE DEAD.

But it’s the second disc, uneven but brilliant, which makes this whole thing so much more than an academic curiosity. Alan Dunn, who trawled the ark for the pieces which comprise the first, invited eighteen contemporary sound artists to make "conversation" with Burgess recordings, and they mostly interpret the brief loosely - whether it’s Dinah Bird's symphony of profanity (based around a sentence used by Burgess to demonstrate the malleability of the English language), Roy Claire Potter and Kieron Piercy delivering what I would imagine a VERY uncomfortable community centre collab between Andrea Dunbar, Jane Arden and NWW might sound like, or Mark Vernon generating eerie veil-like acousmatix from a recording of “a lunch at Casa Frollo in Venice in 1988 with Anthony, Lliana and guests being attacked by hungry seagulls after he discards some tiramisu” (!)

Fucking right. 2020 is on! 




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