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Ut: Primal, Uncompromising

Ut, consisting of Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham, and Sally Young, [is] a fascinating band on any number of levels. Genealogically, they span the great divide between New York’s mythic No Wave outburst of the late 1970s and the legions of bands (the most prominent among them being Sonic Youth) that would spring up in their wake and ultimately eclipse them. Politically, they are three women making challenging music. — John Tuma, Ut Archivist

Ut, In Gut’s House (Blast First/Mute)
Griller (Blast First/Mute)

Barely more than confidential to begin with, Ut was long ago swallowed by the quicksands of rock history. Now, new reissues of the trio’s last two albums show that the band was a musical UFO that somehow squeezed itself into the tight interstice between the corpse of no-wave and then-nascent indie rock.

Constantly switching instruments and trading vocals, Jacqui Ham, Nina Canal and Sally Young wrote songs that blisteringly explored a very female-centric psychic and corporeal anxiety. The band’s masterpiece probably is its second album, In Gut’s House (1988), a fantastically abrasive heap of hesitantly tribal drumming, chanted vocals and serrated guitars, with an occasional screechy violin thrown in for extra color (black, of course). The wheezy “Mosquito Botticelli,” which anchors this manifesto of uneasy listening, sounds like the remains of punk turned inside out and left to rot. Even when Ut flirts with straight-ahead songwriting, the result is claustrophobic, as if the women were desperately scraping at the closing walls of unshakable disquietude.

Engineered by Steve Albini, 1989’s Griller was the band’s swan song. The sound feels more ample, and at times the group hurtles forward, propelled by more orthodox rock drumming. But don’t expect anything soothing: Griller also suggests a certain primal vortex, ready to suck in unsuspecting listeners. And that’s the thing about uncompromising fucked-upness: It just doesn’t get old. — Elisabeth Vincentelli
Originally posted  in
Time Out NY