Gilbert Isbin,
Red Wine
(Gema, 2003)

Belgian acoustic guitar player Gilbert Isbin presents his 12th album, Red Wine, which overall is a palatable experience with some strong and lasting notes. His style is a blend of influences: classical, jazz, freeform, blues and ethnic music. His 14 compositions are sometimes restful and other times the melody can be rather disturbing, but his skill on the guitar is unquestionable.

This is an album for anyone who is definitely fond of acoustic guitar music, rather than for those who don't mind listening to a bit now and then. It is a rich offering for those with the palate to appreciate his style and expression, but I found listening to the whole CD in one go somewhat overpowering -- and would prefer to have it on random shuffle play with a few others, even if they are all guitar music, just for a break in style.

Isbin can be quite intense for a non-guitarist listener, and his polyrythmic tendencies, for me, overshadowed the often lovely simpler base tune, when it could be discerned. I did enjoy it, and will listen to it many times again, but maybe I am not enough of an aficionado to fully appreciate Isbin's genius -- akin to your average person saying to a wine-expert that some rare vintage isn't bad with steak and chips!

If you really like acoustic guitar, or if you want to hear something different and original, then give Gilbert Isbin a try.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 26 June 2004