Before Nirvana became famous, Kurt Cobain put his creative mind to engineering a mixtape — now available for download — and its odd conglomeration of sounds, from John Denver to a retching noise, offers a unique perspective on the late singer.
Dangerous Minds said Cobain’s "The Montage of Heck"
mixed tape was made in 1988 with a four-track cassette recorder and actually has two versions, one eight minutes long, the other 36.
"It comes as no surprise, then, that Kurt was enamored of putting together diverse mix tapes but, more to the point, unbelievably wacked-out sound collages that went way beyond anything as mundane as a mix tape," Dangerous Minds wrote. "If mix tapes get off on juxtaposition, then sound collages are mix tapes on mescaline, with the juxtapositions colliding with each other every which way."
LiveNirvana.com said Cobain used to include "The Montage of Heck"
on demo tapes, and listed Frank Zappa, William Shatner, Sesame Street, and numerous other sounds that made Cobain’s cut into the mixed tape.
Reactions to the mixed tape are varied, with Spin saying
, "Though the 36-minute-long track starts of pleasantly enough, it gets very weird very fast — there's a lengthy segment about three minutes in that's mostly a repeated retching sound. Still, it's a worthwhile listen just to gain some insight as to how Cobain thought about sound, and to admire the then-21-year-old's impressive music catalog."
Although media outlets gave credit to Dangerous Minds for unearthing "Montage of Heck," copies of the mixed tape have been posted on YouTube for several years. Paste Magazine said the tape was made in 1986
and calls it, "a somewhat terrifying sonic mess that only the brave should attempt to listen to in full."
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