Kurt Cobain’s Mixtapes: Montage of Heck

An ostensibly authentic Kurt Cobain mixtape has been sitting on Vimeo for 2 years without being noticed. It was posted by SpaceEcho, who says he got the cassette personally from Kurt. It sounds exactly like Kurt’s experimental art-tape style. Kurt didn’t just make mixtapes. He made strange, William S. Burroughs & Brion Gysin 89influenced cut-ups from sound.

Montage of Heck runs just over 33 minutes and sounds so familiar it reminds me of a primitive version of Kurt’s later sound montages. Those have a much faster editing pace and make cannier choices before jumping into music. Either it’s real, or someone went to great lengths to imitate Kurt’s audio cut-up style.

At 19m10s a female voice tells you get ready to dance “a wild watusi, a frug, or a swinging halli galli”. I’ve heard that same excerpt on a different Kurt Cobain tape, minus the rest of the dialogue that is included before and after the quote above. In other words, Montage of Heck has more of that particular audio sample than what Kurt used of it on another tape. For that reason alone, I would say this is authentic.

Kurt was also known for giving out mixtapes to just about everyone, even to the kids who were around when he was working as a janitor. There’s actually an NPR story about that that I’ll post later.

Montage of Heck on Vimeo

SpaceEcho’s description: “Mind the length of this one. Find yourself submerged into the voyage depths of hell. Experimental Electronic Communication from out worldly sources through the forces of Cassette. Presenting the full version of Kurt Cobain’s “Montage Of Heck. (1986)

You can watch and download Montage of Heck on Vimeo.