Ok, so I finally found an Ut album the other day, hurrah! It was Griller and I perhaps would’ve preferred In Gut’s House because that’s the album most talked about, but really, beggars can’t be choosers now can they, and Ut albums are hard to find!
I am relatively obsessed with the New York No Wave thing, though am getting a bit sick of reading about the same bands over and over (Mars, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, James Chance & the Contortions, DNA etc), so it’s always nice to explore more underexposed territory.
Ut is pretty famous in terms of the canon of female punk/post punk/experimental artists that is often promoted by other later female musicians doing similar music, so I guess I’d come across them first through those kinds of channels (maybe from the list at the end of Le Tigre’s “Hot Topic”?). But in terms of the generally considered canon of music, like, in the wide world, they are often overlooked in a similar way to how Liliput, Malaria! and other all-female bands tend not to get much of a look in, until other women have hammered it home that is (I think we can thank women for the recent excitement and revival of the Raincoats and the Slits). So more women writing music criticism and telling us about the bands that inspired them, please! (as an aside, check out the new book by Zoe Street Howe on the Slits).
Back to Ut. Formed in 1978 in New York, and featuring Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham and Sally Young, Ut moved to the UK in 1981. They put out 4 releases on their own label “Out Records”, and then 3 more on Blast First. Of these last 3, In Gut’s House and Griller (made with Steve Albini) were more recently re-released, and are the best known Ut albums.
Ut weren’t anything like any of the other bands coming out of the No Wave era. Raw. underground rock is probably a better way to describe them, and perhaps they weren’t overly fashionable in that art school scene in NY. However, listening to Griller I was reminded strongly of New Zealand all-female post punk band Fatal Jelly Space, and also to a lesser extent Look Blue Go Purple. There is a darkness to their music (track names such as “Wailhouse”, “Scrape” & “Spore” probably give that away), which would not have gone astray on a Flying Nun catalogue. But Ut could also be compared to Sonic Youth & PJ Harvey just as well.
There is a short piece about them at the end of the recent NO WAVE book put out by Black Dog Publishers, which somewhat fits them into the family, but apart from that, it’s pretty hard to find out much about Ut. They sound great though, and despite coming from a place about as far away from Auckland, NZ as you can get, they made me miss home just a little bit.