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

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Sancious and Tone - Transformation (The Speed of Love) – David Sancious came at the genre of jazz-rock fusion from a rather different direction than most of the key figures. Rather than coming into it as an established jazz player or from the progressive...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues