Ethereal readings of some of Bowles' best...
ewomack | MN USA | 12/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Bowles recorded several readings in the last few decades of his life. Most have made the transition to CD (such as his 1978 readings of "A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard"). Unfortunately, the cumulative number of sessions remained sparse. The recordings on "Baptism of Solitude" were recorded at his home in Tangier, Morocco in 1994. Bowles reads a broad sampling of excerpts from his novels, his travel essays, his short stories, and his poetry.
Anyone who has heard Bowles' voice knows its mesmerizing and hypnotic qualities. The sonorities, whistles, and hoaryness draw the listener inexorably in. Listening to this voice recite chilling scenes from "The Delicate Prey" and "A Distant Episode" delivers both a beautiful and a horrifying experience. "Baptism of Solitude", from the collection of essays from 1957 entitled "Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands are Blue", provides a good centerpiece for this collection. Bowles reads the beginning and ending of this reflective essay on the transforming nature of the awesome silence of the desert.
Ethereal music accompanies all of the readings. Usually it enhances the words but at times it intensifies and competes with Bowles' voice. When it does, some of the nuances of his voice become obscured. But luckily these times remain few in number. Those looking for unaccompanied readings by Bowles should seek out the earlier CD "Black Star at the Point of Darkness."
Bowles made only a few recordings. And none of these were major releases so they remain somewhat difficult to find. For Bowles fans they represent a unique opportunity to hear him read his own work outloud. And for this reason alone they are invaluable."
Water from a deep well
Donald Gavron | 02/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I imagine anybody willing to track this down is already a fan of Paul Bowles so I won't talk about his writing other than to say he always had a knack for clarity. His voice here is as worn as his age would suggest but the truly beautiful thing about it is that the ambivilance he reads with ends up contrasting the content of his work! Add Bill Laswell's usual soundscapes and you get a strangely engaging and in some cases spellbinding portrait of an artist's work. It is absolutely clear, yet you are not quite sure of why. I suppose the vagueness is it's beauty. As someone who has spent lots of alone time in the Sahara, the title track is a must for anyone vaguely interested in traveling there."
Donald Gavron | Woodbridge, NJ | 12/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Bowles reads from some of his most famous and infamous works, colored by the ethereal music of avant garde/progressive composer Bill Laswell. Bowles, in a matter-of-fact, semi-fractured tone reveals the subtle terror and the sublime beauty of his work. Turn out the lights on a rainy day and listen to Bowles and Laswell spin their web of intricate existential dred and you will know what it is like to stare into the abyss. A hard to find disk but well-worth searching for."