Gudrun Gut I Put a Record On

[Monika; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: vaguely industrial and trip-hoppy electronic pop
Others: I don’t know. I don’t really listen to this stuff. Portishead? Björk?

When I loaded this thing up, I’d already glanced at the one-sheet and knew to expect something electronic. So I got kinda thrown for a loop when I saw “Rock Bottom Riser” on the tracklist. I thought to myself, “Self, this surely cannot be the same song as the one featured on Smog’s brilliant 2005 album, A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, can it?” Obviously, being a fairly massive Smog fan, I had to check this one first. I totally did. It’s the same song. Weird, right? Of course, it’s drastically different from the original, like any decent cover should be. But this...this.... This is like a “Mr. Tambourine Man”-caliber cover: your career being made on someone else’s song.

Well, 'career' might be a bit overzealous. Ms. Gudrun Gut has an unfortunate name (though I'm fully aware it’s Scandinavian or whatever), and it was ringing some distant, underwater, gauze-wrapped bells. Eventually it dawned on me that this lady used to be in Einstürzende Neubauten. I think I read somewhere that they’re from Germany or something. It looks like I should’ve examined the one-sheet a little further, because “Einstürzende Neubauten” is there, and it is also in bold. Totally kertwanged on my own personal self. Alongside that are listed some other bands Gut’s been in that have more in common than just her membership: Mania D., Malaria!, and Matador. So I Put a Record On and “Rock Bottom Riser” aren’t exactly career-starting. This is, however, her first solo outing.

But unlike “Mr. Tambourine Man,” this is a complete reinterpretation. It begins by following a solid beat, simple organ, and gaseous synths before the latter half devolves into shattered acoustic guitar and ribbits. Pretty awesome. After listening to that tune first, I was pretty goddamn psyched for the rest of the album. I mean, look! There’s a song called “The Wheel” later on, sharing a title with a track on Bill Callahan, née Smog’s, new album Woke on a Whaleheart (don’t tell Mom). But it’s not the same song this time. (Haha, just guessing. I have no idea what the Callahan song sounds like.) Still, as the album’s other devastator, it’s the weird mirror of “Rock Bottom Riser.”

Clickety opener “Move Me” is great and sounds sort of like the theme from Knight Rider and should chart. I just willed it to chart. “Girlboogie 6” is also pretty cool and aptly titled. Closer “Tip Tip” is stellar as well with its pianos and little pingy noises. But these are just the absolute standouts. Really, the only misstep here is the awkwardly titled “Pleasuretrain,” which suffers mainly due to its overly long length (this can happen to real trains, too). Ultimately, it’s a good album that landed kind of outside my usual listening habits. But fun and stuff.

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