Jon Rose “State of Play” 2CD



Two CDs and a 44pp colour booklet containing full track details, an illuminating essay and nifty photographs of Rose’s recent projects, various automata and invented instruments – you know what to expect by now; Jon is never short of ideas: 60 years and half a new world are packed into this release. You may not warm to it all – there are no half-measures taken – and although it’s (probably) tougher than listening to that Yes album again, it’s also a mine of lightbulb moments, stimulation, unlikely combinations of psycho-somatic data and proper training for the ears.  On disc one, Jon – playing variously violin, Thai pumpkin soup violin, tenor violin, keyolin, el lubricato (a 20 litre oil-drum with wheel-bows), string clusterfuck violin, slow bow automaton and the St. Sebastian violin – duets with Jim Denley (alto sax), Freya Schack-Arnott (nyckelharpa), Clayton Thomas (double-bass) and Robbie Avenaim (automated and manual percussion). Stylistically diverse doesn’t cover it. Disc two features recent larger-scale projects including: 1) The Web – a 32 string automaton with rotating double plectrum, accompanied by a string ensemble (in tonal and microtonal tunings); 2) the Sydney Harbour Bridge (with choir), 3) a violin (with symphony orchestra), 4), an impossible real-time solo for two banjos, tenor violin, interactive bow and a lot of extremely complicated electronic technology, 5) a very intricate variant on the aolian harp, based on an Australian washing line device), 6) a player-piano driven by MIDI data derived from a recording of a La Vegas casino, duetting with an automated violin driven by data from 24 Wall Street traders and, 7) a classic, exquisite, composition for distressed organ, automatic strings, plectraphone,  two violins, a viol, cello, guitar and monochord. Jon doesn’t keep the tills jingling and even I don’t like every second of everything he does, so why do we keep releasing his records, you ask – because the man is Leonardo da Vinci: Track 3, CD 2. I rest my case.
Also appearing: Jim Denley, Clayton Thomas, Robbie Avenaim, Freya Schack-Arnott, Erkki Veltheim, Elizabeth Welsh, The Song Company, Ilan Volkov, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Cor Fuhler, Claire Edwards, Zubin Kanga, Michael McNab, Maria Moles, Judith Hamann and Hollis Taylor.