The album opens with Roses Are Drugs. Wally handles the electronics on the intro with Hristo on guitar. Drums and Robbins’ bass join in on this beautiful and expressive piece. The rhythmic patterns are tight and cool, while Hristo’s gorgeous guitar ascends pristinely with exquisite tonality.
The quick full-stop changes the direction in favor of Wally’s incredible drumming while Hristo and Dan Robbins step back momentarily. Wally then falls silent, allowing the guitar and bass to carry the melodic lines forward ever so slowly. Wally rejoins in force and the trio pushes forward together. Tight ending.
Moonbridge starts with a funky beat that is adopted by Dan’s bass line until Hristo moves in with distortion before cleaning it up in such a precise touch. Wally and Dan subdue the rhythms as Hristo sets off in dynamic exploration of the space created by the rhythm section.
The chord choices and changes in the final section are exciting and brilliant. Add to that Wally’s brilliant drumming and this, my friends, is music for the mind as well as the heart.
Fieldwork is a display of aggressive bass and drums stretched beneath a languid guitar that is attentive and colorful. Hristo, as always, paints in vibrant hues in his masterful guitar-playing while Dan’s bass is more than rhythmic but also adds a drive that is equaled by Wally’s intense drum patterns.
Then, in the blink of eye, Hristo takes on a percussive attack while Dan plays a more melodic line on the bass. The roles are reversed again and the trio drops the tempo to a slow fade-out.
Spun is introduced with electronics and Wally’s drums before Dan kicks in with some of his most imperative bass work. It is melodic and rhythmic at once and takes command of the piece. It is a short piece but loaded with fun and interesting twists.
Here in Your Eyes is a soulful, emotional piece and played that way by the whole trio. The touching guitar is covered by the beautiful bass lines and delicate drumming. The bass often runs in contrapuntal directions to the guitar but it is a work of extraordinary intelligence and warmth. The harmonics are sweet. In one of the most moving passages, the bass offers the lofty movement of the melody in the closing phase of the song. The emotion of the piece is the essence of affection and dedication.
This is followed by Green. There is a bluesy electronic feel to the piece as it opens but the staggered rhythms and odd configurations of chords makes for a fascinating piece of listening material. Hristo’s stratospheric guitar is a thing of soulful beauty. Dan and Wally just nail the odd-metered times and lay a foundation on which Hristo builds a temple to music.
North Road gets kicked into gear with those sweet and funky rhythms of Wally’s. Hristo climbs aboard while Dan and Wally continue to work their rhythmic wizardry. Sometimes you want to just sit back and catch the time signatures of everyone’s playing. The melodies are easy to follow but those rhythms!
And yet, the melodies that this drummer (Wally) writes are fascinating. The chord changes are so interesting and the performance is, as always, sheer perfection. Hristo and Dan work off of each other brilliantly. Don’t get lost in the melody and drumming without paying attention to Dan’s bass playing. He’s got the goods.
Infected closes out the album. The heavy funk from Dan and Wally is picked up quickly by Hristo and he and Dan mirror each other until Dan’s solo. When Dan solos, it is not just the chance to show his chops (and he’s got them!) but, rather, he contributes to the movement and the melody of the song. He adds a little slap-funk when it’s needed.
Hristo tears up the melody with joyful abandon and Wally must be smiling from ear to ear as the album bumps to a close. This was fun stuff!
Idiotfish 3 is the joyous sound of brilliant musicians working together—heart and mind—to bring together the sounds of life and love. These three artists have known each other and performed and recorded together for so long that they are incredibly intuitive with each other. The album is proof of that camaraderie and affection and, together, that affection is shared with those who hear it.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl