Joe Fonda and Gilbert Isbin, partners in time, create vivid imagery via the many manifestations of sound they take their instruments through, over, and across. What is more remarkable is that they do it with an astute aesthetic: there is no howl or cry in their music. What they have is rhythm, a pulse and a kinetic energy that constantly bristles.
The compositions are credited to Fonda and Isbin, but the heartbeat lies in the improvisation that gives the music its depth and character. It has a spontaneity that rises and endears. One never knows where the two are headed. In this lies both the delight and the lure. And it does not matter whether they are on an exuberant roll or are locked in quiet communication.
One of the characteristics of this album is that Fonda plays the melodies while Isbin, for the most part, thunks the body of the guitar, rustles the strings and slaps and slides, but adds enough dynamics to make the tunes vibrant. The first song, describing a cycle of varied time, opens on the funky beat of the bass before Isbin comes in to do his dance on the guitar and help shape the ebb and tide of structure. Fonda's arco, always a strong element that shows droves of imagination, gets a particularly virile workout on 'The House of J,' the roiling intensity fuelling chunky chord work from Isbin. The bowing that ushers in 'Fonda' is mellow, a molten warmth essaying its presence and shimmering in a chamber music-like feel. The artists constantly tweak the sonic palette, the shades of sound and metre making for an elevating experience. Free music and unabashed rhythm drive the blues away.