the name of the group won't ring a bell - this is, in fact, their first
record - the individual members are pretty well-known. From Soft Machine
to countless solo albums and collaborations, Hugh Hopper has proved
himself as a highly original composer and a very influential bass player
- the kind one "gets" after hearing just one note. Nick Didkovsky
is of course the main composer and the guitar player in Doctor Nerve.
John Roulat is the drummer in Charles Vrtacek's Forever Einstein, whose
Opportunity Crosses The Bridge CD Didkovsky produced; but their mutual
knowledge goes way back: according to the CD liner notes, they had played
together in a high school rock band!
seems like these people still have to meet once! But you'd never guess
from listening to the album, which sports a band feeling many "real"
bands would envy. (It appears there was a big transatlantic exchange
of audio files...)
is definitely a Rock Record. What "rock record" means these
days is an interesting question. Let's say Uses Wrist Grab has lots
of guitars - but also tons of intelligence, variety, maturity, passion
and heavy doses of real fun. The key element to everything are John
Roulat's drums: big, lively, full of verve, very real - of course, the
fact that he quite knows his way around a drumset doesn't hurt, either!
To repeat: it's been some time since I last listened to drums which
put a smile on my face - forget about "loopy", "digital"
opening track, To Laugh Uncleanly At The Nurse - already in the repertoire
of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet - is very nice. But the first real
surprise was for me track two, Foster Wives, Trophy Air: a giant riff
that's (almost, but not quite) "arena rock", with a couple
of guitar solos - bluesy bottleneck, then subtle volume swells - that
really made my day. Ditto for Chaos, No Pasties. You'll get the composer
of Big Bombay and Danzig after two notes - and Didkovsky's guitars perfectly
match that menacing mood we all know and love.
are a lot of surprises - just listen to the (overdubbed) solo percussion
rendition of Hopper's Hotel Romeo. There are software touches that definitely
recall some procedures on Doctor Nerve CDs. And the overdubbed, prepared
guitars (and rhythmic accents) of Overlife, Part 1 will keep one entertained
for days. Interesting til the end, the album comes to a beautiful close
with the meditative atmosphere of Hopper's Little End Or Beginning.
really hope a lot of people will listen to this CD, which is not "difficult"
(not at all!), but which is highly creative all the same. My "Rock
Record of the Year"? You bet! (On second thoughts, get two copies.)
Beppe Colli 2003
| June 10, 2003