RECORD COLLECTOR, FEB 2000, UK (Joel Mclver)
"Belgian guitarist and composer Isbin has recorded this album for acoustic guitar, stating that Drake's compositions lend themselves well to guitar pieces as the melodies are both subtle and unpredictable. The fact that Isbin is a lifelong fan is revealed in the dedication it must have required to perfect these pieces, mostly for solo guitar, but also accompanied by percussion.
'Free Ride' is a superbly understated work with Spanish melodies and a haunting, recurring theme, strummed rather than picked- 'Place to Be' , for example, is a dexterous, rolling composition, with the odd-top E string-pop and drone on the lower E and A strings. While 'Parasite' does hint at Isbin's early blues influences, the tone throughout is mostly latin.
'Three Hours' and 'Which Will' are standouts, and Isbin's own 'Boymanblues' is a mellow, almost classical piece, with very folky undertones.
The album as a whole is deeply satisfying- an ardent tribute by one of the guitar's great masters."
NRW Vertrieb, Dostenerstr. 468 (Hinterhof) D 44653 Germany E-mail :
COLUMBIA RIVER READER, FEB.2000 , USA ( ARCHIE PATTERSON)
"Nick Drake is simply a footnote in the history of UK folk music, but one that is referenced in many places. Musicians like REM, Kate Bush and
Everything But The Girl, all name him as an influence. Recently in Portland, Oregon a local nightspot held a Nick Drake evening where the whole
musical spectrum of Portland participated as local artists performed their favorite of his tracks. The small venue was packed. He recorded 3 brilliant, but obscure albums, and quietly died in his sleep of a dose of anti-depressives in 1974. Sometimes beauty and greatness are only recognized with time, such was the case with Nick Drake. The ultimate irony of fate is that his popularity today has been rekindled by a national TV car ad.
The Belgian guitarist Gilbert Isbin recently released in Europe a most moving instrumental tribute to the music of Nick Drake. One of the continents most talented guitar players he has taken up the challenge presented by Nick’s compositions, which employ multiple minor keys and alternate tunings.
Gilbert’s background in jazz makes him fully able to recapture the elaborate combinations of chord clusters and adventurous finger stylings that make up the drifting tone colors, and fractured melodies, The notes literally hang in mid air at times, only to end abruptly in
mid stanza of some minimalist composition.
Gilbert chose 10 of Nick’s most haunting pieces to create a sampler extraordinaire of his works. Simple and filled with emotion, the album plays like a hymn to a fallen comrade. The delicate notes and beautiful melodic fragments melt into a darkly radiant musical poem that haunts you long after the sound is gone. Highlights include three tracks from Nick’s stark and desperate last album PINK MOON. The titles, “Free Ride”,
“Parasite” and “Which Will” alone convey the artist’s dilemma. To make music so intimate and full of emotion, yet to be heard by very few
ultimately took its toll. Thankfully we have albums like this to remind us of what we missed back then, and allow us another chance to rediscover
them. Sadly, Nick won’t know..."
ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM (USA) By Glenn Astarita
" In somewhat of a loosely based connotation, Belgian based guitarist Gilbert Isbin could be the European counterpart to America’s legendary acoustic guitarist John Fahey. Mr. Isbin’s CDs have been reviewed here on All About Jazz in the recent past yet each offering from this master guitarist represents something distinct or thematic. Here, Isbin decides
to revive the music of the late and often misunderstood composer/vocalist Nick Drake who died at the tender age of 26 in 1974 from a drug overdose. With less than a handful of records and only 1 interview to his credit, Drake’s brand of rock was distinguished by unusual chord voicings, oddly constructed melodies and dark, humorless themes.
Yet it doesn’t take a Nick Drake enthusiast to enjoy this absolutely stunning recording! Throughout, Isbin’s sensitive
strumming, diverse attack and poignant lyricism captures the spirit of a tragic figure who wasn’t around long enough to reap the benefits of wide-spread notoriety and fame.
Isbin’s meticulous craftsmanship, thoroughly melodic interpretations and radiant technical ingenuity provide the winning formula! In fact, Isbin’s personalized approach, thoughtful execution, overall sentiment and conveyance of the material
at hand might allude to a sense of ownership, as if Isbin composed these pieces himself.
Whether you’re familiar with the music of Nick Drake or could care less, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to hear Isbin who is rapidly advancing to new heights with ambitious and fully realized projects such asPlays Nick Drake - “A Tribute to His Music”. Highly recommended."
METRO, DE VRIJETIJDSGIDS VAN DE MORGEN, donderdag 13/01/2000
"Although Nick Drake died a quarter of a century, there are still new generations under the spell of his introspective songs. His beautiful melodies, rich guitarplaying and unusual way of singing did also affect the guitar virtuoso Gilbert Isbin from Bruges. Hence this complete instrumental hommage. Isbin puts his own voice upon this songs, makes them sometimes a bit jazzier and put unexpexted accents (Traurige Tropen)
Although Nick Drake died a quarter of a century, there are still new generations under the spell of his introspective songs. His beautiful melodies, rich guitarplaying and unusual way of singing did also affect the guitar virtuoso Gilbert Isbin from Bruges. Hence this complete instrumental hommage. Isbin puts his own voice upon this songs, makes them sometimes a bit jazzier and put unexpexted accents."
ABOUT.COM, USA, JAN. 2000 (Dan Cross)
"The resulting all-instrumental 11 song tribute CD is a highly impressionistic, often abstract recording, that is generally a very preasurable listen Isbin is not afraid to freely interpret Drake’s themes, and make them of his own. In doing so, Isbin certainly makes the music somewhat less accessible to the general public. For the adventurous and patient listener, however, Isbin’s latest effort will be rather rewarding."
STAGE, N°57, BELGIUM, JAN. 2000 (Dirk Freyns)
"On this CD the excellent guitarist from Brugge interprets a selection out of the 3 official Drake albums, totally alone and without singing. In this way it becomes clear how even without Drakes soft, deep voice his melancholic songs, with their sometimes typical, bizarre phrasings, stay upright. although the way they were arranged by Gilbert Isbin are of considerably importance."
MUZIEKKRANT, N°5, BELGIUM, JAN 2000 (mvdb)
"Delightful, respectful arrangements create an intimate sphere, signed by guitarvirtuoso Gilbert Isbin. The last track on the CD is one of Gilbert’s own pieces, wherein he succeeds to express beautifully the spirit of Drakes songs. "