Most CDs didn’t need to be made. This one did. It is a three-disc retrospective (plus data disc of videos) of the surprise-laden career of Jon Rose, a sort of Marcel Duchamp for the ears. Primarily a violinist, Rose has not just been a pioneer of free improvisation and imaginative ways of fusing improvisation, composition and electronics, he has championed all that music can be beyond what it usually is.
He has also been a wide-eared talent scout, seeking out weird and uniquely Australian sound sources. In his Pannikin project an auctioneer, a singing dingo, a chainsaw orchestra and a whip virtuoso are among the acts he recontextualises with the help of a band. Some are hilarious and others unexpectedly touching, but always there is a surge of humanity – or dingo – however improbable the outcome.
His love of injecting ambushes into formal composition is exemplified in the seething Internal Combustion, a notated violin concerto for completely improvised violin, and Charlie’s Whiskers, which nods to Charles Ives.
The labyrinthine interactions between samples and musicians on Talking Back To Media reward close listening with an experience akin to dreaming a radio play. One of Rose’s most notable projects was playing outback fences with a bow, and an enthralling version is included here. Almost stealing the show, however, is George the lyrebird, who solos to astounding effect with string-quartet accompaniment.
This album and Rose’s essay The Music of Place: Reclaiming A Practice (about revaluing live music in our community) are launched at an invitation-only performance at The People’s Republic of Australasia, Camperdown, April 28.