Exposé Online banner

Ut Gret — Recent Fossils
(Ear X-tacy 9650-2, 2006, 3CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-05-01

Recent Fossils Cover art

This Louisville, Kentucky based ensemble (pronounced Oot-Greet) has been around about as long as I can remember. Over that long period they have gigged a lot but released only a few recordings. This is the band's 25th anniversary box set (though there is no box, just a massive quadri-fold digipack housing the three discs and a 20 page booklet with a story and footnotes that will keep you smiling). Nominally a five-piece, the band has invariably involved numerous musicians over the years, plus some additional collaborators and such, though the mainstay and de-facto bandleader is multi-instrumentalist Joee Conroy. The band covers a wide range of styles, but mostly what one hears is music that exists on the borderlines of several idioms, including elements of folk, rock, jazz, world music, free improvisation, modern classical, and experimental music. That covers just about everything, doesn’t it? Whatever they play is – on a whole – generally unclassifiable. Likewise, every member plays numerous instuments, to even list all the instruments played by the current lineup would eat up the entire review, let alone past lineups, which is mostly what this archival set is all about, recorded originally in the 2002 timeframe. The three discs each have their own title (The Dig, Time Laps, In C) and all of these could have easily been separate releases.

Disc one is The Dig, subtitled Compositions for Experimental Gamelan – eighteen mostly short tracks featuring real or sampled gamelan (or Western instruments playing in gamelan scales) as well as other world instrumentation (flutes, mbira, hand drums, gongs, wood percussion, suling, berimbau, tamboura, didgeridoo... the list goes on and on) to produce a fusion of the traditional Indonesian sound and various Western idioms that respect similar scales. The results are nothing short of stunning. Now let's skip to disc three, In C, which is uses similar instrumentation and samples thereof applied to the Terry Riley classic, which itself is just a very basic set of rules that the players improvise on, and in this case given the instrumental application, it certainly sounds like a natural follow-up to disc one, albeit a more familiar one.

Which brings us to disc two, Time Laps: Idiomatic and Non-Idiomatic Improvisations. That pretty much describes the nine tracks that are presented here in a general sense, where just about anything can and does happen. Usually Ut Gret sticks to an instrumental palette, but here we hear voices on some of the cuts, and on the opening title track, that comes along with shakuhachi (traditional Japanese wood flute), koto, santoor, electric guitar, looped samples, and the bowed and plucked interior of a piano. One track "21st Century String Quartet" is in fact performed entirely on two violins, a viola and cello, but don't expect anything remotely conventional. "Testosterone Fairy Games" and "The Enemy Is Dust" employ more conventional instrumentation, and tend to exist within a hybrid of Western rock and jazz styles. "Appalachian Fall" finds guest Eugene Chadbourne contributing banjo to a long and spacy free improv also featuring clarinet, mandolin, cello, sitar, keyboards, and percussion. Time Laps is very different from the other two discs, perhaps a bit more challenging at times, but nonetheless satisfying.


Filed under: Archives, 2006 releases

Related artist(s): Ut Gret, Henry Kaiser

More info
http://www.utgret.net

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Arashk - Ustuqus-al-Uss – Arashk is presented as an Iranian three-piece instrumental unit covering multi-guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, though more correctly in recorded form it’s mostly the vehicle of...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues