Boomkat Product Review:
Spoken-word adaptations of scenes taken from Destroy All Monsters, the first book by writer Ken Hollings.
"These recordings, made in 2001 in the weeks before September 11, constitute a unique historical document. A multistranded postmodern epic, Destroy All Monsters offers a radical retelling of Desert Storm, America's military operation targeting Iraq, using imagery derived from MTV videos, CNN news reports, Japanese kaiju movies and anime, Hong Kong action flicks and tales of alien abduction. The book's entire narrative nervously unfolds in an unstable of world of terror monsters, wrecked cities and dangerously tall buildings: where an event like 9/11 is inevitable. The book was officially launched on September 13, but distribution in the United States was delayed when ports on the Eastern Seaboard were closed to shipping post 9/11, leaving copies of the book stranded in the Atlantic. 'Published the very week of the "attacks on America",' Toby Litt wrote at the time, 'Destroy All Monsters is genuinely, spookily prescient…as a progress report on Planet Earth, it seems to have timeslipped onto the front pages.' Lydia Lunch praised it as 'a hallucinogenic spiral into future nightmare', while The Scotsman called it 'mind bending reading.'
In the summer of 2001, Ken Hollings was approached by sound designer and electronic music composer Simon James, who wanted to create an audio adaptation of scenes from the novel to share with subscribers to a spoken word channel launched by totallyradio. The idea was to record Ken reading his own words and then embed them in a soundscape that evoked the fragmented complexity of the original text. Ken concentrated on a small handful of threads from the overall narrative, while Simon directed and engineered the final recording. This resulted in the two sequences of words, sounds and electronic tonalities contained on this audiocassette: an unsettling portrait of people about to be overtaken by events.
In October 2001, having just got married in London, Ken and Rachel Hollings went to New York for their honeymoon, just as they had originally planned. They spent an unforgettable week in a city struggling to recover from the seismic changes that had just taken place while a sudden wave of anthrax attacks on government and media offices filled the news cycles. Rachel took a photograph of Ken at Ground Zero, where crowds of onlookers continued to gather, and the air still smelled of burning.
The Destroy All Monsters audio adaptations marked the first occasion Ken and Simon worked together – subsequently they collaborated on the 12-part series Welcome to Mars for Resonance 104.4 FM and Connecting, an audio portrait of the original 'phone phreaks', for BBC Radio 3. In 2021 they teamed up again to make Fast Forward, a six-part documentary series for Kasperksy Lab."