FAME Review: Gilbert Isbin & Scott Walton - Recall
Gilbert Isbin & Scott Walton - Recall


Gilbert Isbin & Scott Walton

pfMentum - CD073

Available from pfMentum's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I make no bones about the fact that I consider Oregon to have been one of the most important bands of the 20th century, especially for its unbelievable body of work in the 70s and 80s, after which the gents passed into merely 'damn good' from 'Olympian'. Now almost forgotten, I'll presage that their catalogue will re-emerge more strongly than ever when the current crops of new generations of musos settle down into their second and third winds, hungry for new wellsprings but doing so with more finely honed perspicacities. We needn't wait for the event, though, because Gilbert Isbin and Scott Walton are already there, having issued the extraordinary Recall, which travels from Cage to Oregon to Kevin Kastning to Penderecki to Morphogenesis to Machaut, and many many points in between, including a generous helping of the more ornate antedeluvian European antecedents, albeit with wine-soaked and opium drenched inspirations.

There are only two players here, two instruments, lute and bass, and no overdubs, but the sound is so complete, even when arid and windblown, that one marvels at the fabrics, the bizarre, serene, loquacious, and peripatetic entablatures complete in warp and woof, needing nothing more than precisely what's been evoked. Like a Miro painting, a sumi brushstroke, or a petroglyph kiva panel, the frequently austere figurations speak for themselves and as fully as a Monet canvas or a Dalinian hallucination. The gents have played with estimables—Hugh Hopper, Vinny Golia, George Lewis, John Abercrombie, Blonk, the aforementioned Kastning and his frequent partner Sandor Szabo, and a list far too long to cite. Walton's astonishing in the range he can coax or force out of his instrument, re-fleshing Brian Eno's observation that many instruments are far too inadequately explored. When you hear this guy, you'll never perceive the bass guitar (contrabass,in this case) the same way again.

Isbin has received myriad accolades from distinguished sources (All About Jazz, Guitar Player, etc.) and, like Kastning, his style defies categorization, though the merest listen reveals he, like Kevin, has listened deeply to every era and epoch in the sonic arts and missed nothing, resulting in a constant defiance of time and place. His axe can never reach the Stygian depths a bass can, it's impossible—after all, that's why the second instrument was created—but it possesses the celestial ceiling of clarity bass lacks and that provides for a completely different articulation, a second intelligence. The combination, then, of two such broad ranges in hands almost too outré to credit as being human has here resulted in a disc that nearly climbs out of itself, and, 100 years from now, Recall and kindred expositions will be attended as though they were wrought the day before and still marveled at. Had I been apprized of the disc in time, it would've made my FAME Top 20 Of 2012 without a second thought, so look upon it as a top disc for 2013 as well, and 2014, and 2015, and 2016, and 2017, and 2018, and 2019, and 2020 and………

Track List:

  • Solace (Isbin / Walton)
  • Flutter (Isbin / Walton)
  • Panting (Gilbert Isbin)
  • Soedansdochter (traditional)
  • Unhinged (Isbin / Walton)
  • Embra (Gilbert Isbin)
  • Oblique (Isbin / Walton)
  • Pensive (Isbin / Walton)
  • Along Green Ditches (Gilbert Isbin)
  • Blooming (Isbin / Walton)
  • Weaving (Gilbert Isbin)
  • Spatter (Isbin / Walton)
  • Knomish (Gilbert Isbin)
  • Terpsichore (Isbin / Walton)
  • Recall (Gilbert Isbin)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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