Wednesday, February 17, 2010
UT - Griller
They started smack dab in No Wave but survived, branched out and developed into a fearsome, razor sharp outfit.
"Hooking up with Steve Albini for 1989s "Griller" gave the band a more visceral punch – the bass gets a more muscular tone, the guitars sound like they could strip paint, and the drums thump with an authoritative purpose. With the percussive chair mostly handed over to newcomer Charlie D., Ut bordered on a bizarre form of outright accessibility here. While Charlie’s drums can pound with an almost leaden weight, he provides a previously unheard backbone for tracks like the propulsive “Canker” and “Fuel,” lending urgency to the chiming guitars and Young’s familiar yelps. The tense “Posse Necks” reaps a similar benefit, with a forlorn violin fighting against a six-string onslaught as Ham’s vocals negotiate grim territory. More often than not, though, those moments when the band returns to their traditional trio configuration sound the best – for “Spore,” Canal’s vocals careen around a dual guitar attack that Ham’s drums bisect, while album opener “Safe Burning” spotlights the playfully aggressive interplay the band had spent 10 years honing.
After "Griller" settled, Ut called it quits. Theirs was a music that always explored the darker implications of No Wave textures, never once ceding to the hooks or ham-fisted funk that invalidated the later work of many of their contemporaries. Ut never made a real attempt to engage with larger music structures and scenes in which they found themselves, and while this dedication to a decidedly inward aesthetic has subsequently marked their recordings as uniquely original, it has also unfortunately meant that they sound out of place when stacked against many of the bands that existed around the time they did. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing – the records these three coughed up during their run sound tied to neither date nor place, evidencing three musicians with a singular vision that could never easily be pinned. At the same time, however, it throws into sharp relief the reasons why they have been largely forgotten. As a band that couldn’t easily be pigeonholed, Ut suffered the fate of general indifference. A shame, that is – these records sound even more invigorating today when compared against a sea of No Wave fakes whose only desire so far has been to replicate a long-lost zeitgeist they never fully understood." - Michael Crumsho