ACOUSTIC GUITAR WORKSHOP.COM (UK) by Steve ELLIOTT
"Gilbert Isbin pushes the boundaries of what is possible on the acoustic guitar. "Blisters" is a daring atonal and rhythmic encounter on the boundaries of music. Hypnotic, exhillarating, surprising, "Blisters" is right up there in the vanguard of the avant garde. If you like your musical stylings out there on the edge, check out this new offering from Gilbert Isbin and the great American bassist, Joe Fonda.
ALL MUSIC GUIDE (USA) Glenn Astarita
Knowing the track record of bassist Joe Fonda (United States) and guitarist Gilbert Isbin (Belgium), it should come as no surprise that these modernists would turn in a creative duo session. Isbin's acoustic guitar discography features reconstructions of rocker Nick Drake's compositions amid avant/folk-based recordings and much more; Fonda co-leads the Fonda-Stevens jazz group, amid his affiliations with world music artists and his first-call session status for an assortment of modern jazz-based endeavors. On this outing, they stretch the sounds and capabilities of their acoustic instruments to the hilt. An extremely rhythmic endeavor, the musicians tap their axes, de-tune strings, and collaborate for a sequence of twisted themes. The listener will be treated to an assortment of countermelodies and free-form excursions on pieces such as "This Longing," "Check Please," and the remaining 11 works. Here, rules are meant to be broken, as the artists' carefree and sometimes humorous approach might be akin to the inventiveness of toddlers attempting to re-engineer their toys.
IMPRIVIJAZZATION NATION,issue # 64 from ZZaj Productions (USA), Dick Metcalf
As soon as you hear Gilbert's guitar(s), you'll know where th' CD title came from... lightning-fast, high-energy picking, & Fonda's double-bass drives the pace to th' kind of frenzy that only raw talent can accommodate. The duo keep up a running background scat on quite a few of the pieces, though you have to listen pretty closely to hear their chanting. Fans of players like Ernesto Diaz-Infante will relate to this style immediately! Rather than epic compositions, most of the pieces are quite short (under 5 minutes, except for one), so it (actually) makes for a wonderful listen. Gilbert is from Belgium, Joe from the U.S., but they're definitely soul-mates with a clear understanding of the directions their music is traveling towards... subtle oblivion & energetic excellence. If you're looking for full-blown orchestral, or "pop" jazz, you'll hit "eject" right away... but if you love strings that vibrate & move the strings of your heart, you will have to have "Blisters". The keyword here is subtle... but, nothing is obscured, the recording has captured ev'ry moment, with no need to screech/whistle/pop to cover anything over. I enjoyed this greatly, & listened to it (at least) 5 times through before I felt I had "absorbed" (a part of) their vision. This gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of string-based improvisation.