Uses Wrist Grab


Though 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!

It 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...)

This 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" and "boxy".

The 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.

There 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.

I 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

© Beppe Colli 2003 | June 10, 2003