Apparently, during the same sessions when Elliott Smith recorded his Oscar-nominated “Miss Misery,” he was laying down some sick EDM tracks. Ex-Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty posted three songs today under his UUL guise — “The Record,” “Dogs,” and “Burn (Aah Fuck)” — that contain Smith’s vocals sliced and diced over electronic beats. Doughty says the tracks were recorded at L.A.’s Sunset Sound Factory while Smith was working on music for Good Will Hunting. Smith fans will recognize the lyrics and melody of “The Record” from their later appearance in Smith’s song “Bottle Up And Explode!” from 1998’s XO.
Doughty found the tapes in November 2013 and says they’re presented in their intended form. He gave some background about the sessions to Pitchfork:
He was in L.A. for some reason. He said, “Oh, I’m doing this thing for this movie.” That’s what he said and it was Good Will Hunting… He downplayed it. He was kind of like, “Ehh, I can’t believe I’m doing this thing.” But I think he was just cool kids-ing it. You know, because he thought I’d be like, “Oh, that’s so lame, dude. It’s a fucking movie.” But I wouldn’t have said anything like that ever.
But anyway, so I just wanted to do something with him. I didn’t wanna do something– you know, a rock collaboration would always end up just somebody doing a backing vocal and you’d be like, “Yeah, well, if you listen really closely, you can hear J Mascis.” Whereas in hip-hop music– first of all, I have to say, we don’t claim that we were running in hip-hop circles; it was just my obsession– someone would come in and do a verse. They would have their own part of the song.
So I was trying to figure out how to do this and what we ended up doing was he just came down to the studio and sat in front of a binaural head. A binaural head– I don’t know if they look different now, but in the late 90s they were grey foam sculptures of a human head with a bone structure and a brow and a nose on it for facial features, with two specialized microphones in each earhole, and when you would listen back to it, it would just be an incredibly realistic stereo effect. really like if you record a street scene and if you close your eyes and have headphones on, you would seem submerged in the street scene. So we sat in down in front of this ludicrous device and he sang two songs, and the idea was I was gonna figure something to do over it and I didn’t have anything good, but I have these a cappella versions. I wish I knew where I put them…
Hearing Smith in this context is pretty zany, but it works. Download all three songs below.
For more Smith, read our tribute from the tenth anniversary of his death.