Remarkably, Kurt Cobain’s “solo record” is the first posthumous album to bear his name. Compare this to the legacy of another Washington-born, left-handed guitarist who released three studio albums before dying at age 27. But Montage of Heck, like the bulk of Jimi Hendrix’s posthumous releases, is no masterpiece. As an accompaniment to filmmaker Brett Morgen’s recent documentary, it’s not pretending to be. It is an artifact pulled from a tomb, dusted off and displayed to appeal to nostalgic curiosity. Listening to Cobain’s lo-fi home dabbling, sloppy strumming and the vulnerable warble is an eerie and unsettling experience, akin to prying through someone’s diary (which Riverhead Books made possible in 2002). Still, melancholy seeps in as you recognize glimpses of Cobain’s promise.

The albums’ 31 tracks include few songs, the majority composed of sound collages and childishly humorous skits, Cobain’s voice either manipulated to sound like a chipmunk or deepened to demonic levels. The first true song is an early demo of “Been a Son,” which is exactly what it sounds like — a rough work-in-progress. Several tracks later is the first truly compelling number, “Clean Up Before She Comes,” another version of which was previously available on the With the Lights Out box set. It’s a drone that seems covered in a cobweb quilt, Cobain’s multi-tracked vocals mewling and hypnotic.

The medley of “You Can’t Change Me/ Burn My Britches/ Something in the Way” starts with a repetitive, sludgy churn a la Cobain’s heroes the Melvins. With Cobain’s voice so high and creaky, it can be a grating listen, a characteristic of many of the tunes. The transition to the familiar Nevermind closer, though, provides some interest, the somber number interpreted as a down-tempo, roiling bit of noise. By contrast, the demo for Bleach’s “Scoff” is so brief at 37 seconds that little insight can be gleaned.

The tracks are in chronological sequence, and get better as the record plays on. Halfway through the album comes “Aberdeen,” a spoken-word piece finding Cobain waxing autobiographically, perhaps trying to emulate a young William S. Burroughs in his delivery.

There are three particularly poignant songs. A cover of the Beatles’ “And I Love Her” is at once the album’s most haunting and most tender moment. Cobain strums a not-entirely-tuned guitar, his vocals uncharacteristically warm, and the dingy recording atmosphere makes him sound like a Delta bluesman. The instrumental “Letter to Frances” is a simple but rich melody, plaintive as though Cobain doesn’t know how to verbally express his feelings for his daughter. Last is the biting “She Only Lies,” consisting of Cobain wheezing over plucked bass notes. It’s hard not read into the song’s focus with lines like “[I know it’s right/ ‘Cause I want her to die/ I don’t love her/ No, I really hate her/ And I know that you will hate her too/ If you were given half a chance at all].” How literal Cobain was being is open to interpretation, but considering he was performing this song for himself, it’s tempting to take it at face value.

Montage of Heck serves a purpose that’s more historical than musical. It’s for completists only.

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