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I Put a Record On

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Album Review

Since Gudrun Gut has been a fixture in Germany's experimental and electronic music communities for over three decades — performing with Malaria! and founding the Ocean Club collective and her Monika label along the way — it's a little surprising that it took so long for her first solo album to arrive. However, I Put a Record On is well worth the wait, full of impressionistic tone poems about the strange ways that desire, dreams, and memories work. "Move Me" opens the album with a collage of ticking clocks, gasping breaths, shimmering accordions, and shout-outs to Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" that manages to be shadowy, elusive, and urgent all at once. Gut's music nods to Berlin's thriving minimal techno scene (and her friend and Ocean Club collaborator Thomas Fehlmann mixed some of these tracks), but I Put a Record On branches out in unexpected musical and emotional directions. On many electronic-based albums, a cover of Smog's "Rock Bottom Riser" would be unexpected at best, and her dusky, sibilant voice and serpentine melodies lend "Cry Easy" and "Tip Tip" a wry sensuality echoed by the hip-swaying shuffle-tech rhythms of "Girlboogie 6." This track, like most of I Put a Record On, is strange and seductive in equal measures; "Blatterwald" pairs a strutting bassline and swishing beat with a storm of distorted guitars and feedback, while "Last Night" sets impressions of a night out gone awry to synths and jazzy guitars that tickle and pop like champagne fizz. Gut's forays into big band and cabaret make I Put a Record On even more surreally seductive, especially since they're paired with electronic and found sounds that melt together in an evocative blur, as on "The Land," which glides along on a four-on-the-floor beat past looping cellos and bubbly clarinets like a bullet train through the countryside. As the album unwinds, it grows even more abstract, with samples of laughter and nightlife giving "Sweet" and "Pleasuretrain" the feeling of memories you can hear; "The Wheel," I Put a Record On's loveliest and most thoughtful track, sounds like Gut is thinking aloud on a busy summer street. Subtly haunting, this album is a love song to the trancelike state that can happen when you put a record on.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

From her years with the experimental post-punk band Malaria!, to her many collaborations, to solo electronic work, Gudrun Gut has been a pioneering force in German underground music. Gut was a student at Berlin's Hochschule der Kunste in the late '70s and early '80s, and became a part of the "ingenious dilettantes" art and music scene. She performed in Din a Testbild in 1977 and 1978, then formed Mania D with Beate Bartel and Bettina Köster. Gut and Bartel were also percussionists in an early lineup...
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I Put a Record On, Gudrun Gut
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