Duuude, Tapes!: Gurt, Collection

Sure, they look friendly enough, but UK sludgers Gurt cake on some of the filthiest downtuned mud coming out of the Isles these days. Their 2012 EP, You Ain’t from around these Parts? (video here) was a lurching slab of viciousness, and I was psyched to discover recently that Superhot Records (see also Trippy Wicked, see also Stubb) released a compilation of some of their earlier works. Dubbed Collection and limited to 50 copies hand-numbered — I got #26 — the orange tape culls together Gurt‘s 2011 full-length, Redwin, on side one, and the prior 2010 EP, Volume 1, on side two.

This is exact type of purpose I like for the tape format. Not just commodified nostalgia (is there any other kind?) for the early ’90s, but something a collector would want, a really low-key release, small, cheap, but still something cool for the people to have who want it. As I hadn’t heard either Volume 1 or Redwin when they came out, Collection was a perfect opportunity to get myself acquainted with the beginnings of the band. Starting at the start, as it were.

They don’t, though. Redwin is the second, the newer, of the two releases on Collection, and it was pretty clearly a conscious decision to put it first. Relatively speaking, it’s more realized, cleaner-sounding and more professional. Though the span between Volume 1 and Redwin had only been a year, Gurt have a more definite idea of the kind of drunken cacophony they’re shooting for on a song like “Swoffle,” which slurs out lines like “I’ll sink your battleship/She floats my boat” as a setup for the Led Zeppelin cover “Rock and Roll.”

Both sides of the tape wind up featuring covers, first Zeppelin and they tackle AD/DC‘s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” on side two, but Gurt definitely make the classics their own, dirtying them up and treating them to vocalist Gareth Kelly‘s rasping screams. For showing the band at a more formative stage, Volume 1 is even rawer than Redwin, fatter in the low end and launching with “Fucknose,” which had shown up on side one as well, all mean and primitive. The toying with country-isms Gurt showed on You Ain’t from around these Parts? was beginning to crop up in the banjo intro to Redwin, but on the three tracks of Volume 1, they weren’t quite there yet and it was straightforward pummel and addled fuckall.

To finish, Collection delves even further into Gurt‘s primordial ooze, rounding out with a “rough mix” of the song “Soapfeast” that actually sounds more like a rehearsal room demo. Wherever this version comes from,┬áit lives up to the “rough” part of its listing, and I mean that as a compliment. The track showed up last year alongside “Dudes with Beards and Cats” on Gurt‘s split with the since-defunct Dopefight, and it makes a fitting conclusion to Collection‘s quick, devolutionary trip. Any rawer and they probably wouldn’t be there to start with.

It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of spiked tea, but Collection is a welcome curio and a cool way for anyone who’d dare to to get indoctrinated by Gurt‘s plodding sludgeisms. The orange cassette, the limited number, that’s all really fun stuff, but in the end, the songs win out as its biggest appeal, and that’s all you can really ask of it.

Gurt on Thee Facebooks

Superhot Records

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