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.

Android Poetry Cut-Ups

William S Burroughs-Brion Gysin (Ian Sommerville's 'Dyptych' 1962 collage)

William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin in Ian Summerville’s 1962 collage “Dyptych”

These poems were generated from my own words by a mobile phone’s predictive text program, Swype. The lines were then rearranged. This produces the reverse of the Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs technique of cut-ups. The words are yours and the selection is not, instead of vice versa.

Yes, if you want to write poetry, I think it’s best to let a phone or newspaper do it for you.

“Swype, using AI and language models, creates a database of user’s frequently used words and predicts a next word.

Time is a greedy pig
in a sea of penicillin
A penthouse pet with a loan modification
Filthy green anxiety
a physical reaction to stress
A remnant of the day ago
Grief retracing
the same thing
far enough to hurt.
Too much
discretionary data
every day, except for the empire.
too much time

I could never be
I could never have been
I don’t want to be

I don’t think it’s calming
when you come back here to sleep
with the unemployed youth of the day
Maybe I should be enough,
the only reason,
you said.

If I could use some reason
If I could never be
If the pain is unforgettable
the next time you want me
You can stay here longer
if you can’t afford to take care
Sleep on to the pharmacy
It is the night somewhere.