Ut Gret — Time of the Grets
(ZNR1009, 2004, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-02-01
Here is a group that, like The Rascal Reporters, consists of two musicians who between them play about a billion instruments. Musically however we are talking about an entirely different ball game. OK, now how do you review an album as schizoid as this?
Ut Gret, comprising Joee Conroy, and David Stilley, straddles every musical boundary under the sun. On their debut CD you've got six compositions, and the titles read almost like tributes to various bands and musical artists. Leading off is "Friend of the Cow," which certainly could be construed as a Henry Cow inspired piece. But I don't think even Henry Cow could pull off these kinds of hairball metric modulations. This is more of a Zappa ethic here. The programmed bass and drums are what provide the foundation for such technically fiendish arranging, but it is kept well down in the mix, camouflaged by the acoustic instrumental work. "Braxton & The Bird" is a jazz improv piece that seems out of place, and is performed largely by guests. I'm not familiar with Anthony Braxton's work enough to comment. But there was nothing I could detect as an influence of Charlie Parker (aka "Bird"). Different species maybe? Then they really throw us a curve with "Silly Hat Frontier." A Hatfield & The North pastiche right? Sure, gotta be. Wrong. This time they show off their improv chops with a free-form sound collage excursion that has a good sense of space and dynamics. The strongest point of the whole album in my opinion. Henry Kaiser gets a cameo spot on this one. And boy will it leave you unprepared for what follows, would you believe, a Magma parody. Actually the music really doesn't resemble that group too much. But the title gives it away, as do the over-the-top vocals. Towards the end it got downright frenzied! A bit of a hands-on editing job would have helped to trim the fat off the very lengthy "Time & Revolution," a 20-minute improvised freak out blast that isn't as friendly as "Silly Hat."
There is no denying that Conroy and Stilley have proven they can play up a storm on just about any instrument you hand them. If Ut Gret could just recruit a drummer, and settle into a homogeneous format, then I see them doing some much more convincing stuff. As it stands now, though, I'm still a little hesitant.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more