Producer: Kurt Cobain
Released: November 13th, 2015
Well would you look at that, after two decades of silence rock icon Kurt Cobain, the ex-frontman of the legendary Nirvana, releases his first ever solo album. Many people have been surprised by this new development mainly because mister Cobain has spent the last week decades as a regular member of The Choir Invisible. I don’t think these kinds of posthumous collections unfinished recordings have ever been met with positive reactions, whether it’s Amy Winehouse or Michael Jackson whose grave is being robbed, since it’s almost always unfinished material released without the consent of the artist in question. But the record executives are all too happy to unceremoniously shake the corpse just as long as there is the faintest chance it might drop some loose change.
Well, actually, here we are talking about a ‘soundtrack’ accompanying the new documentary of the same name, so there is a partial justification for the release. Partial. Given that along the years there have been several albums worth of previously unreleased material released from the Nirvana vaults, it is not a huge surprise that Montage of Heck is scraping the bottom of the barrel so hard that whatever floor the barrel was placed on probably needs to be remodeled. And boy, does it show: “Reverb Experiment” is exactly what it sounds like; three minutes of the same riff played over and over with slightly shifting amp feedback. The audio quality is inexcusably bad even for a bedroom recording, and Cobain, who has never been very technically capable singer even on the more polished studio recordings, mumbles and wheezes his way through everything like a goat suffering from diphtheria. In the Spotify version many previously released songs like “Been A Son”, “Something in the Way” and “Scoff” have the words ‘Early Demo’ attached to them as a sort of stamp of legal release, a footnote that denotes that the record company is not liable for any damage of traumas caused by listening to your favourite Nirvana deep cuts as terrible, half-finished drafts. It’s sort of like ordering a steak at a restaurant, after which the waiter leads you to the back room, where you are forced to watch the animal being slaughtered and gutted before your eyes. And there you are, covered in blood and guts of your favourite cash cow, poking a steak on your plate suspiciously with your fork, remembering the sacred animal it once was.
Nothing on Montage of Heck is worth one’s money or time. You can get a similar experience with better sound quality by going to the local pub to listen a half-competent troubadour or by finding a street busker, and by giving your money to that guy instead you also avoid supporting this kind of exploitation of dead people. Maybe a person who is a more of a Nirvana fan might get something out of this, but then again, I suspect that person might be even more offended by all this.