Recent Fossils

[Ear X-tacy Records, www.earx-tacy.com / www.utgret.com]

  "Devote all your time to love and art,
for they are the only actions we do in
this world that are truly benign."
The Book of the Grets Louisville, Kentucky is the hometown of the troubadour, genre-bending ensemble known as Ut Gret [pronounced Yout Gred].  You'd be forgiven if you admit that you've not heard any of their releases, though the odd thing is, they've been putting out music for the last quartet century [which begs the question, how did they manage to stay this far from the public's ear for so damn long?]  To celebrate that fact, they've released "Recent Fossils", 3 CD set that shows off the breadth of their musical know-how.  One of the terms the band uses to define their sound is "pan-idiomatic", which is more or less a mixture of world, classical, improvisation and experimentation of every sort imaginable. 
The package is broken up into three distinct, easy-to-digest CDs.  First one, called The Dig [or Compositions for Experimental Gamelan], contains pieces for homemade gamelan.  All of the compositions are credited to Gret leader Gregory Acker, who plays gamelan throughout the disc. Along with the gamelan, we've got other Grets on bass, mouth harp, variety of percussion, tenor and soprano saxes, South Indian flutes, with Acker returning to play the didgeridoo.  Sounds are akin to those you may have heard played by Indonesian percussion ensembles.  Very soothing, mesmerizing melodies emerge out of the woodwork, with the whole lot being highly transcendental.  I would even dare and call this music tranquil, but the danger is that readers may mistake it for ambient, which it certainly isn't.  Keen ear for musical detail, reveals a multitude of hidden waves, curves and bumps in the road that can only be caught and brought to life upon very careful and intense listens.  When the flutes and saxophones are employed, an almost dueling yet complementary whole emerges.  Very loose playing yet quite structured and punctuated by a timeless shift of time and space.  Second CD "Time Lapses" focuses on Gret's improvisations with a variety of improvisers - people like Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser and Davey Williams.  Title piece finds Kaiser play minimal stabs of scorch guitar, while Gregory Acker returns to didgeridoo and Greg Goodman plays inside of piano.  The whole is very well paced.  By the time we get to "Testosterone Fairy Games", we're starting to tread on fusion-rock territory.  Davey Williams and Joee Conroy trade off scrumptious licks on electric guitars, while Acker plays some jagged bursts on his soprano sax.  "Appalachian Fall" has Eugene Chadbourne contribute recognizable, yet very uniquely pleasing banjo motifs, while percussionist Paul Lovens plays interspersed taps with an enjoyable amount of irregularity.  Joee Conroy is at the helm on mandolin, cello and sitar, while Gary Pahler is in tune with the direction Lovens is pursuing.  Add to this Steve Good on clarinet and Todd Hildreth on keyboards and you've got yourself paint-by-numbers, free-for-all improvisation of the best sort.  Every single piece on the second CD features the same high-quality level of communication.  It's as if everyone was listening with a third ear to what the others in the room where playing.  Responses are second nature and the music is all the richer for that.  Final CD is made up of a 75-minute reading of Terry Riley's "In C".  Players on the piece are Marco Novachcoff on bass clarinet, Mark Englert on marimba, Joee Conroy on vibes, David Stilley on alto sax and synth programming along with Greg Acker on flutes.  As with most readings of this classic Riley piece, the result is supposed to be trance-inducing, which it is.  As Englert taps the marimba in the same succession, Conroy does the same on vibes, while Novachcoff along with Stilley and Acker provide the back-bone of the piece.  After a few minutes, your ears forget about individual instrumentation and layers of luscious, drilling sounds emerge out of nowhere.  By the end of the piece, one can't believe that a whole 75 minute time-frame has just concluded.  One of the Gretian mothers remarked about the piece, "for the first ten minutes I hated it, but after that I was entranced", which is a fair way to describe Ut Gret's music in a nutshell.  Give it time and patience and rewards will bear a multitude of fruit on their own.  

- Tom Sekowski

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+ GEORGE & CAPLIN - He Really Got Through to Advertising / PELOTON - Selected Recordings / MANPACK VARIANT - Sticky Wickets / NICOLE MITCHELL'S BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE - Black Unstoppable CD / DVD / MANIACS DREAM - Turku Hold'em / FLOWRIDERS - R.U.E.D.Y. / SNOLEOPARDEN - Snöleoparden / BLOOD ON THE WALL - Liferz / BAKER / HUNT / SANDSTROM / WILLIAMS - Extraordinary Popular Delusion / VARIOUS ARTISTS - Craze - FabricLive 38 / ROBERT OWENS - Night-Time Stories / JACK MARCHMENT - Corydon and Manjrekar / FLUORESCENT GREY - Gaseous Opal Orbs / M.B. + E.D.A. - Regolelettroniche / S.T. MIKAEL - Mind of Fire / FERVENT - Conjestion / LACONIC ZERO - Tribeca / ROB BROWN ENSEMBLE - Crown Truck Root Funk / THE GARIFUNA WOMEN'S PROJECT - Umalali / THINK OF ONE - Camping Shaâbi / ROBBIE AVENAIM / DALE GORFINKEL - Sonic Systems Laboratory / MOLJEBKA PVLSE / SEVENTEEN MIGS OF SPRING - Ravha / Electricity Gardens / ZAVOLOKA - Viter / THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND - 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons / NOSTALGIA 77 - One Offs, Remixes & B-Sides / GOLIATH BIRD EATER - Blood Venus / MICHAEL BLAKE SEXTET - Amor de Cosmos / AXEL DORNER / DIEGO CHAMY - What Matters to Ali / EARTH - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull / TAUNUS - Harriet / ULAAN KHOL - I / STEVE MACLEAN - Bridges / ROSIE BURGESS - Humble Pie / GYLDENE TRION - Live at Glenn Miller Café / KIDSOK NUIT - Lo Spazio Delle Fasi / BOB JAMES TRIO - Explosions / VARIOUS ARTISTS - Euro Groove / FREE FORM FUNKY FREQS - Urban Mythology, Volume One / NIK BARTSCH'S RONIN - Holon / THE LORDS OF OUTLAND - You Can Sleep When You're Dead
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+ Wolę być didżejem - rozmowa z Matthiasem Tanzmanna [+ KONKURS!]