[17 December 2009]
The mystery behind Clutchy Hopkins’s true identity remains, but it has become clear what he is all about musically. Armed with a host of instruments, this talented producer has made his style known like his partner-in-crime, Shawn Lee. The two jump from continent to continent, from one album, hell, from one song to the next, and they do it all while crafting sometimes catchy, almost-always interesting music. For this capable duo, though, its latest and second project together falls short of capturing the magic heard on its debut, Clutch of the Tiger.
Instrumental records such as Fascinating Fingers bear the unfortunate problem of having their songs bleed together. You have to appreciate the cohesive quality of the music, but there’s no reason that cohesion cannot be reached with more variety thrown into the mix. In other words, many of the tracks on here carry a similar laid-back vibe and tempo. A fine example is “Chapter 2”, an otherwise fine track that also just sounds way too much like what we have previously heard from this duo. Even when things get more warmed up, the music doesn’t necessarily inspire much more than a friendly nod. That’s not to say these two multi-instrumentalists are looking to break necks or get your ass on the dance floor, but it should go without saying that a hint of different could have made this album much more satisfying.
There are still a handful of highlights, such as the creepy Halloween grooves of the aptly-titled “Willie Groovemaker”. Like other tracks here, this one ebbs and flows akin to a shortened jam session, but Lee and Hopkins make it work, especially as their “fascinating fingers” move swiftly across the guitar-necks. But tracks like this are too little, too late. Instead of this record being the killer it could have been, it’s merely good, palatable, and worth a spin or two.