Gudrun Gut - I Put A Record On

George Bass 25/02/2007

Rating: 3/5

Decorated music executives who put out their own records: it's not a conventionally easy thing to appreciate. You don't want to write it off as a case of 'ladies and gentlemen, the ego has landed', but equally you never want to go too far down that Mike Read/The Trainspotters road; it's the ugliest cul-de-sac this side of Chigwell. Fortunately, Gudrun Gut is a musician first and label honcho second, having been a cropper-upper in the continental underground scene for a couple of decades now, and has finally got a full-length proper lined up for release - her first since 1997. Sort of a Blue Nile from Berlin.

Generally, the direction chosen for I Put A Record On is equal parts hip and haunted. The spartan, often sinister production allows for a strange signature sound, like Pagan futurists sabotaging a Jazz Club social, while the tunes themselves are as bright and rubbery as a catalogue paddling pool. The Land is essentially Cotton Eye Joe in comavision, something dark and sluggish that snuck out of a deleted scene from Jam, whereas the squishy delight of Sweet is carefree as Boards Of Canada bobbing way in a bathysphere. That's not to say this is a quirky-for-the-sake-of-it record, though - just one with a deliciously wrinkled sense of humour, and a feisty eccentric at the dials. With its waltzing big-beat arco and smoky feminine muttering, Move Me plays out like Franka Potente putting The Streets to bed. Pleasuretrain, on the other hand ‐ one of several collaborations with Manon P. Duursmar ‐ pulses with goosey honks and a beat so white it'd make Mr Soft barbiewalk his way to Trebor heaven. Again, Ms Gut's husky murmur permeates the track, and helps keep the whole thing from stalling into art installation obscurity. She even switches to her Germanic mother tongue for Bl├Ątterwald, whose ambient march and stroke-struck slurring could well be someone rapping over a blue movie while secretly munching spacecake. Listen carefully and you can even hear bits of biscuit ricochet off the mic, I swear. In terms of "you couldn't make it up", though, the album's biggest surprise is undoubtedly Rock Bottom Riser, a collaborative cover that takes the acoustic humility of Smog and expertly reverses it through a shitstorm of computerised Bontempi. The boy Callahan even chips in himself to give it a plucky send-off. It's a tight exponent of the overall effect the album has: something both familiar and repeatedly intriguing, like the sound of a helicopter.

Having made a few ripples with Milenasong's Seven Sisters LP, Monika Enterprise have lined up a zesty-enough sequel by throwing their leader's wholemeal into the duck pond. Thrash junkies might find it a bit underwhelming in a couple of places, but the bulk of I Put A Record On gambols along nicely, with more beefed-up synthetic strangeness than a McDonald's slurpee.