Adventures in Gretness

Time of the Grets (ZNR)
Ut Gret

By Tim Roberts

This review is in six parts. Start anywhere but read everything.

1. The band's name is pronounced OOOT-GREET.

2. Ut is a term from medieval music. It means the lowest note on the organ, the principal tone. Grets were part of the last great wave of Barbarian invasion, more culturally than physically harmful. They would sneak into towns and mess with their cultural artifacts: i.e., rewrite the local music, swipe heads off statues; subtle vandals with a mission to keep local cultures from getting to comfortable with themselves.

3. Louisville's Ut Gret is a freeform combo of no fixed membership. Principal members Joee Conroy and David Stilley (so indicated because they are on all of the CD's tracks) and all their guests (Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Gregory Acker, Eugene Chadbourne, Davey Williams, Misha Feigin and Murray Reams). Their shared mission (the Ut of their name) is to combine an assortment of instruments, tones, rhythms and melodies into adventurous, cohesive segments that explore musical possibilities (the Gret of their name).

4. Have you read Naked Lunch? If not, go read it and come back to this review. If so, you know how William S. Burroughs likes to toss a word, sentence, or character at you with no seeming relationship or context to the text around it. Sometime later, it reappears in full context and you make a connection. That's what Ut Gret is like. It is unleashed improvisation, with each track is contextual to itself. In other words, if one instrument pops up in a track, you'll only hear it there. Plus each track is developed to a natural ending. No gratuitous noise.

5. Misha Feigin wails one of his poems in his native tongue in Ut Gret's "Magma Futura." Check out the syntho-funk break in ¾ time. The track will remind you of the being trapped in a strange dream, the kind where you wake up in knotted bedsheets.

6. Time of the Grets is fascinating stuff for your head only. Your feet may want to come along, but you'll just have to say "no" for now.