The Devil's Hands - Michael Doerksen & Jordan Robson-Cramer
The Devil's Hands is what I'm calling it when I rave about a guitar player nobody else seems to have noticed or appreciated. Canadians Michael Doerksen and Jordan Robson-Cramer are two such guitar players. Their hands are skilled in the tradition of Frank Zappa and Adrian Belew. They share guitar playing duty for the band Sunset Rubdown, fronted by Wolf Parade key player Spencer Krug. I've been using the song "The Mending Of The Gown" as a standard for speed and agility. Sunset has no shredding and none of that Post-Rock string-scrape thing. The notes, though distorted, are picked cleanly and with purpose. The fact that their rhythm parts are as complicated and intense as many guitar solos, it makes their solos all the more devastating. Take "Up On Your Leopard, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days" the standout from Sunset's sophomore record Random Spirit Lover. The album doesn't credit them specifically so it's tough to say which of the two men is playing, but he, Cramer or Robson, starts out with a part that could have been played by a violin or an organ, but he makes it his own, and in doing so makes the song both original and unforgettable. Spencer Krug's layering of keyboards makes it possible for Doerksen and Cramer to craft the slick, athletic pieces they performs pitch-perfectly. The song "Mending Of The Gown" might be the most unique non-instrumental song structured around guitar playing in a good many years. Best of all they, like Broken Social Scene's Andrew Whiteman, seems to change their parts every show. They have hands that move like lightning and parts that cut through rhythm as in "Swimming" and "Stadiums & Shrines II" from the first Sunset record Shut Up I Am Dreaming. Of course, because America is so blind to anything but shredding and cock-rock and because Canada doesn't have the same tab on its guitar players, there's a pretty good chance they're never going to have their talent recognized in that sense. Krug gets the credit for his zany compositions and worldly song structures so much so that he overshadows the other three members of his band. Not anyone's fault, but that's just the truth of it. Doerksen and Robson-Cramer deserve some kind of recognition because he's one of the most talented young guitar players. He has more flare than most of the players who end up on best of lists, but they'll remain under-appreciated by everyone but for the seven or eight Canadian indie music fans who are also guitar aficionados.
You can't see anything in this video, but listen close and you can hear the guitar, its the first thing you hear.