Press Quotes 2001-2007
what others say
This page consists of descriptive reviews from from The Wire, The London Times, Jazzword, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Jazz, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Cadence magazine, The Voice, The Australian, New York City Jazz Record, Cyclic Defrost, Time Out New York, All About Jazz, Limelight Magazine, The Squid's Ear, Time Out, Real Time Magazine, and many more.
'Working like a demon to extract every imaginable sound from his instrument. Indeed, as Rose leapt about, sawing and strumming strings, shredding the bow, rattling and shaking the wood or wheeling through manic arpeggios, he became a New Millenium Paganini, stopping just short of destroying his violin to squeeze out the last possible effect.'
The West Australian
'There's not much Rose doesn't know about the violin. The rest, he has invented.'
'He experiments with technology that acknowledges and extends his hard-won instrumental techniques rather than ignoring or negating them. Many of the tracks on Hyperstring come across as an urgent report from the frontline, from Rose's personal battlefield with the instrument several tracks feature the sinister rattles of his whipolin, a seven string 'disembowelled cello'. Rose doesn't fit into any categories but all his albums create a violin-shaped world that is all his own, shot through with wild humour.'
'Jon Rose's textural aesthetic is busy and extroverted, often distinctly nonlyrical, and gives a central role to explorational improvisation and physicality of performance. It is also highly contrapuntal, and he sees this latter attribute as the unique contribution of Western music to world culture. For him, the new technologies are not only of value for their expansion of the world of sound, but for their expansion of the potentials of computer-interactive counterpoint for the solo performer. n technical terms, Rose is an impressive virtuoso and has a developed ear for all manner of tonal relations. His bowing is not only a means of controlling sound production, but an enactment of psychodrama. His work is in parts intense, in parts whimsical, in parts satirical (e.g., The Fence) and exhibits rapid changes of texture. Rose also combines hi and low tech, because junk, kitsch and trash are central elements in his constructions. They not only contribute light relief, but aid his central aims of unpredictability of interaction and comprehensive exploration of timbre.'
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Jazz
'Jon Rose is nuts. Totally mad. I have been yanking at my hair for a long time trying to describe his Civic Minded Five show at Rollins. It was truly a unique event. I am almost positive that I will never see anything like that again. His first set was divided into three parts. The first and longest part was him improvising fast and furiously on his violin while triggering a small city's worth of bizarre sounds. He occasionally stood up to feed his violin back into his monitors, creating loud wailing and screeching. He had a few foot pedals with which to play back samples. He demonstrated use of his MIDI bow, waving it around for great sonic effect. The next piece demonstrates the truly out nature of this show. Rose introduced us to two of his instruments, the amplified violin bow and the MIDI bow. He then proceeded to play the amplified bow with the MIDI bow. The audience stared in astonishment. It may have been a man up on stage, but it sounded like an amplified swarm of bees. The next part began with an introduction of this device he strapped to his arm. He explained it to be a series of sensors that are used in cars to deploy airbags. They are pressure sensitive, and therefore are used by him to trigger more samples. His playing now consists of the sounds of the violin, the MIDI foot triggers, the MIDI bow, and the newly introduced MIDI arm thing. I would say that it was chaos, but it wasn't, Rose always knew exactly what he was doing and kept a tight control of things. Needless to say, at the end of the first set, he received VERY hearty applause.'
Ink Webzine, USA
'THE FENCE is framed within some of the most moving and chilling electronic violin music yet issued in digital form. With his distancing devices and distractions like disinformation, bogus facts, nasty jokes and traps for the unwary listener, Rose nails home truths. Investigative journalists and diplomatic politicians have tried to explain or resolve the miserable world situations outlined in THE FENCE, and failed: as usual, it falls to the artists and musicians to face the truth and communicate it honestly and directly. Instead of switching on the news, listen to Jon Rose.'
Sound Projector Magazine
'The Kryonics are not your average string trio. Along with conventional violins, Aleks Kolkowski and Jon Rose play odd instruments such as the Stroh violin (a violin with a gramophone horn in place of a sound box) and the Stroh 3 one-string fiddle, 2 relics from the early days of the 20th century taken from Kolkowski's collection. These instruments and Matthias Bauer's orthodox double bass are played without amplification and were recorded with two microphones, giving the performance a 3 in your living room feel. Most of the free improvisations played at this concert (May 24, 2000) were short (between three and five minutes), with one exception Polar Ear, 16 minutes). Rose is the best known player here and his performance lives up to expectations, bringing together virtuosity, sensitivity and humor. Kolkowski turns out to be the perfect mate, relaying ideas, transforming them, supplying fresh ones (his melancholically evanescent melody at the beginning of Frigid Aire is a highlight). With two violins siding him, Bauer's role becomes central and he handles it with grace. Frozen PP must be the strangest string trio ever, both violinists producing plaintive grainy sounds while Bauer strikes his bow across the strings with frenzy. While the shorter tracks explore specific settings, Polar Ear is an engaging display of dynamics and moods. The Kryonics should delight fans of Jon Rose, since they don't get to hear him in acoustic settings very often. Strongly recommended!'
The All-Music Guide
'Jon Rose is the Australian who played wacky country fiddle against sampled Kim Hill on Greg Malcolm's 'What is it Keith?' CD last year. Using a tenor violin at Galatos, Rose displayed an encyclopedic range of string techniques and then some. One minute he was Paganini, dazzling us with virtuosic fingerwork; the next he was Pete Townshend, thrusting his violin at a speaker to coax out some feedback. Towards the end of his solo, we were given a taste of his "rogue counterpoint", as Rose dueted along with the shafts of melody he had created by wielding an electronically empowered bow in the air. This man has played No 8 wire fences in Australia, created his own instruments modelled on exotic Renaissance and Baroque prototypes, and dipped into prankster musicology. That his artistry is worth a hundred turntablers and DJs was resoundingly affirmed - thank you, Artspace.'
'Jon Rose, the Derek Bailey of the violin...collaborator with the likes of Eugene Chadbourne, Bob Ostertag, Luc Houtkamp, Otomo Yoshihide, and Wayne Horvitz, Rose is a creative musician with plenty of humor on display. STRUNG is a co-conspiracy between Rose and Steve Heather, an electronic and percussive musician. The pair assembled various string players at Amsterdam's The Hospital in July of 2000 to act/react in varying combinations of players, some live, others virtual . What evolved is 24 pieces varying in length from less than a minute to the longest at three-and-a-half minutes. Picture Kronos Quartet meets Naked City without notation. Players bow, scrape, pluck, hit, and otherwise 'excite' their instruments in sometimes beautiful passages and others that get downright vile. Players use homemade instruments like Steve Heather's Whipolin defined as a 'disemboweled cello with hurdy gurdy type wheels of serrated, spiked, and thonged varieties'. Together Rose and Heather stir the pot with bits of metal clash and booming percussive effects. With so many different sounds coming into play, Strung never drags.'
All About Jazz
'May I have your attention, please? This double CD is a MILESTONE of improvisation, a must for any person even slightly interested in new forms of sound expression and freedom of speech, an extraordinary pairing of two most intelligent musicians, exploring new languages through the use of different esoteric tunings, ratios and...temperaments. The juxtaposition between the physical results of those approaches and the creative mind of Rose and Weston brings us to the highest level possible in music today: something near the total perfection. Using their arsenal of violins and keyboards (including a 16-string-long-neck instrument and something called 'Rosenberg Orgonium', among the many) these geniuses range from just intonation to 'Meantone 1/4 comma' with the urgency - but also the grace - of a waterfall breaking up in millions of new colours. You must have a really inquiring ear... and a well prepared brain to capture the whole essence of TEMPERAMENT; within this record lie the influence and the inspiration of Nancarrow, Berg, dodecaphonics, minimalism, free jazz, whatever... filtered through the wonderful hands of Jon and Veryan, two real technical monsters. Already a follower since a long time ago, now I'm completely drugged on this stuff. To be listened for many, many years to come, this release belongs in my all-time top 20, for sure.'
Touching Extremes Magazine
'Jon Rose is an Australian violinist with a disrespectful love for his instrument and its musical habitats, fond of appending it with electronics, power tools and the like. Here, with fellow violinist Hollis Taylor, he abandons the instrument entirely (but keeps the bow). In attacking Australia's 5309 km Dingo Fence with violin bows, cello bows and drum sticks, Rose and Taylor are dealing with a serious resource. Visiting every state in Australia to play and record various of the country's millions of kilometres of fencing, Rose's project is as rich in metaphor as it is in sonic complexity. The violinist writes that the 19th century division of wilderness into enclosed zones helped destroy the nomadic, indigenous Australian way of life, and in appropriating fences for inappropriate artistic use, Rose and Taylor are obviously operating in a metaphorically rich boundary area of cultural difference, history and environmentalism. But they also articulate a certain Australian nationalism through their sincerely eccentric celebration of the country. And, despite its absurdity, Rose denies any 'white fella's irony' in the project. This is, he writes, 'Australian landscape sounding its recent history'. Each of the 25 tracks reveals the sonic properties of different fences and locations. Some sound spectral, some earthy, but best of all is the presumably risky performance on the electric fence at Lake Grace, which feeds back a loop of glitches and clicks. Those who like a little tetanus with their music will be pleased to learn the CD pack comes with a section of authentic, rusty barbed wire.'
The Wire Magazine
'Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor make wild and wonderful noises on long wire fences, which they play with cello bows. Some of the work is closer to sound art than music, recalling the metal constructions of Chas Smith or Jean Tinguely; other fences have the thrills and spills of free improvisation.'
'The Australian violinist Jon Rose has fiddled with fences for some years now. THE FENCE(1998) saw him bowing fences dividing disputed territories in Belfast, Golan Heights, Bosnia and Berlin, with surprisingly affecting results. Here, he and Hollis Taylor travel their native land banging and scraping various fences, long and short, famous and unknown. In Cunerdin, they coax celestial tones from Rabbit Proof Fence No 2; in Nullarbor, the Dog Fence, built to stem the migration of dingoes, rattles and hums; at the close, a fence specially built at the Melbourne Festival throbs and drones for nine disorientating minutes, before an aeolian splutter of the Dog Fence's last grid, in Tambo, echoes the vastness of the delineated continent. This luxuriously packaged item comes with a free piece of barbed wire.'
The London Times
'Most people look at fences and see not very much. Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor look at fences and see thousands of kilometers of musical string instrument covering a whole continent'
The Age, Melbourne
'When Peter Gabriel recorded the music for the film Rabbit Proof Fence, the most obvious instrument to use was staring him in the face -- the fence. You can play a five-wire fence and the music will carry a kilometre along the fenceline, according to experimental string musician Jon Rose, who has just arrived in Brisbane after a 16,000km journey playing, documenting, and in some cases digging up dingo, rabbit and other fences around the country'
'If the idea of frontiers, of fences, between different spaces has already been treated by the evocation of political situations, these fences propose another approach. The "Great Fences of Australia" demarcate places often against diverse intrusions: insects, rabbits, wild dogs, even humans in the case of sites more or less protected by a length of barbed wire. They are evoked here by every type of sonic material, rubbed and caressed by bows or struck by metal rods. Jon Rose and his partner Hollis Taylor propose in this way to the listener a sound journey across Australia, from Alice Springs to Brisbane, from the mountains to the coast, all the while integrating the diverse cries and whispers of the places they have travelled.'
Real Time Magazine
'Taking their cue from the depletion of harmonic possibilities derived from equally tempered tuning, Jon Rose (violins) and Veryan Weston (keyboard instruments) have made 2 CDs worth of material exploring alternate temperaments, as well as combinations involving standard Just C tuning. Recording at specially chosen sites across Europe (Amsterdam, Bratislava, Brusels, Paris, Venice) with several unique instruments (16 string long-neck violin, 10 string double violin, Pawayipawa keyboard, Janacek's harmonium, etc.), the music represents a considerable devotion to investigating what can be played and what harmonic relationships can develop when pre-performance decisions are carefully determined by the desire to hear new worlds. The music soars. Rose and Weston expertly improvise with the range and relations that each tuning procedure makes available. They find the rhythms that juxtapose intensely bizarre and egregiously gorgeous musical phrases; hear In Search of the Pythagorean Comma 2. The strings themselves seem to be startled by the frequencies vibrating in the room: shrill tinglings resonate beyond the instruments, and on Mendels Library overtones flood the distinctions between echoes. Four tracks feature Weston playing 2 Zuckermann harpsichords, with one in equal tempered tuning and one in meantone tempered tuning. (If you don't understand the differences these decisions imply, or the reasoning behind these choices, the detailed liner notes by Dan Warburton, with comments by Rose, offers several healthy explanations.) During these four Harmonious Anvils, this triple interplay of pitch texture provided by the two keyboards and tenor violin (tuned to G, D, A D) fabricates a simultaneously alluring and surprising weave of notes: they arc and swing and exhale into each other's stretching canvas. I found myself perking my head up like a cat at regular and frequent, though admittedly not equally measured, intervals throughout these recordings.'
'The trio of Rose, Abrahams and Thomas ARTERY charges out of the gate on the nearly 19 1/2-minute first track, The Superior Mesenteric. Featured are lacerating bull fiddle movements and steady arpeggios from the forte piano which turn to double, then triple time, trying to keep up with the near-demonic accelerated bowing from the violinist. After a while, Thomas swoops across his lowest-pitched strings as Abrahams attempts some purposely? campy 18th century harpsichord fills, though neither gesture retards Rose's accelerated bowing. At this point it appears as if the fiddler has two bows in use, one for the top of his instrument's strings, the other for the bottom. Soon he turns right into hoedown mode, building up to a tremolo crescendo of sounded string tones alongside grating, col legno raps. As Thomas follows along, moving from arco to pizzicato and back again in an eye blink, Rose introduces clawhammer banjo-like frailing that soon threatens to become as mechanical as a dobro's licks. Near boogie-woogie and prepared piano timbres are contributed by the pianist, but as much as he and the bassist try, keeping up with the violinist is like trying to harness a typhoon. Rose's lines go past presto to prestissimo, past staccato to staccatissimo and past forte to fortissimo. As a climax and crescendo he redirects the layered sounds of all the strings into tasto timbres and the piece ends with Abrahams' chiming, right-handed dynamic clusters. Cooper's harp tones added to those of the other three for The Ascending Aorta, is a stark contrapuntal example of the difference in string quartet conception between the Australians and the Portuguese. The harpist, who regularly plays with Thomas, creates an ostinato made up of an assembly line of strokes that is, when she isn't producing a steady slide from the highest register of the 27-string instrument downwards. Abrahams contributes warbling calliope-like timbres from his keyboard as Thomas inserts knitting needles, clothespins, mallets, sticks, cellophane, and cardboard strips between his strings to add subterraneous resonation and percussive shuffle bowing to the mix. Instructively, Rose's output on this cut stays defiantly near traditional and moderato, leaving the slaps and passing tones to the others.'
Jazz and Improvised Music Webzine
'The PEOPLE'S MUSIC ranges from delicate noise-making to glorious, overtly emotional string themes, gripping film-like passages, and moments that sound like orchestral arrangements of industrial rock. The 13 pieces all segue, forming a continuous 45-minute work that is akin in approach to Rose's hörspiels... Less striking and perplexing than The Violin Factory, this album is also more listener-friendly. And, from a superficial point of view, it ranks among Rose's less confusing albums.'
All Music Guide
'Rose began playing musical saw, while Clayton Thomas achieved some striking sounds on prepared double bass, and Darren Moore maintained an imaginative dialogue on drums. This was cunningly designed to lull the unsuspecting into an extremely false sense of security. Once Rose swapped to violin and Thomas had discarded the objects entwined in his strings it was but a short ride to the high-rise squalls of downtown Feedback, Rose waving his violin around as though enacting a Satanic rite or two. The sounds, although somewhat repetitive, were stunning, with Moore working up the sort of climax that heavy-metal drummers save for the last chord of the last song before the apocalypse.'
The Sydney Morning Herald
'Jon Rose hears music where others do not. He hears it in the wind whistling through the wire; he hears it in the roar of a chainsaw; and in the yelp and howl of a dingo. Rose is an archaeologist of vibrations. To label him a musicologist is too narrow a definition. For the sounds he digs up are, to most ears, not music at all - even to the people who create them. It's noise, cacophony, racket, din and commotion. It's the incidentals to the main game of their lives. Rose, who has deconstructed and reconstructed violins, and has played his bow over barbed wire fences in the outback, has taken this raw sound and given it a context and a sort of musical legitimacy. He has also given it a name, pannikin, a small metal cup or tin. His show, Pannikin, will be rattling and rolling across the stage of the Arts Centre as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival for three nights next month. As to material for it, his cup runneth over.'
The Age, Melbourne
'Jon Rose is known as an international trouble-maker; his arrival at any airport spreads consternation amongst the security staff, who direct him to stand still while they strip-search him and pass a metal detecting wand over his naked body. Rose's normal response under these circumstances is to seize the device from his tormentor's grasp and play it like a pocket Theremin, hooking it up to his violin and interactive computer electronics systems. The resulting entertainment, having been recorded by some passing tourist on his camcorder, quickly assumes a certain illicit status as tape copies circulate on the black market. If you doubt the core of truth within this fanciful account, then it behoves you to listen to this CD and correct any imbalances you may perceive in my side of the affair. It is a penetrating critique of socio-political injustice and hostility of the first water. It is a wonder they haven't locked him up yet. THE FENCE is framed within some of the most moving and chilling electronic violin music yet issued in digital form. With his distancing devices and distractions like disinformation, bogus facts, nasty jokes and traps for the unwary listener, Rose nails home truths. Investigative journalists and diplomatic politicians have tried to explain or resolve the miserable world situations outlined in THE FENCE, and failed: as usual, it falls to the artists and musicians to face the truth and communicate it honestly and directly. Instead of switching on the news, listen to Jon Rose.'
Sound Projector Magazine
'I'm outraged, beyond words, this is so un american, verging on human, I love it, go immediately to Rosenberg's Revised Timetables for the history of the last 50 years of pentagon wars against the rest of us, and don't forget the Islamic Violin while you're at it, the Violin Bomb that could destroy the mind set of the CIA as we know it, the dark age of Gotham is approaching and you got it here first but not fast enough...cause the Violin of Saddam is still housed in the Museum of all Museums...just search for it and all will be told.'
'Bringing everyday Australian sounds and voices that usually don't get a guernsey to centre stage makes for an engaging and mind stretching event in Jon Rose's Pannikin, at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Combining electronic sounds, live string, piano, percussion and computer ensemble with invited guests - both live and via video - Pannikin foregrounds voices that are rapidly disappearing from our vast continent. Guest performers from auctioneers to Dinky the Singing Dingo; from the Broken Hill Barrier Union Brass Band to a piece written for chainsaws and ensemble, gives an idea of Pannikin's musical journey through roads less travelled. Jon Rose's inventive compositions, all finely executed by the ensemble, fused folk and classical to more contemporary genres, but always elegantly suited to each voice. Personal highlights were the magical lyricism of Shen Pangeng's Erhu; Roseina & Harry Boston's gum leaf playing; and Michael Greene's simultaneous whistling and humming. Good compositions expand our musical boundaries, and Pannikin manages to challenge while entertaining without sacrificing artistic integrity. I thought I knew a lot about Australian musical traditions, but after Pannikin, I now realise that there is a vast range of unexplored territory out there, both Indigenous and imported. I'll be listening a lot more closely to our everyday music from now on. '
State of The Arts Magazine
'The award for the most creative use of chainsaws goes, of course, to experimental musician Jon Rose. An astonishing and often touching show, that in Rose's tender hands, demonstrated that music can come from anyone and anything.'
The Metro, Melbourne
'Using a mixture of live and video guests, PANNIKIN constantly delighted by the sheer variety of its acts. A cup filled with joyous diversity. Behind the fun there is serious intent. The acts demonstrate that we are surrounded by the potential for music. The seven piece orchestra whose accomplishments range from strings, piano and percussion to corrugated iron, electronics and musical saws, provides brilliant accompaniments for each item - a deeply moving series of sighs for the Ntaria Aboriginal Ladies Choir of Alice Springs, a fugue for the chainsaws. The music of the everyday is plucked out and elegantly framed. The effect is ironic, humorous and touching. This is music-making that breaks down aesthetic borders and the result is a joyful kind of musical magic. I can't think of a more pleasant way to spend a couple of hours than in its company.'
The Age, Melbourne
'Here is a remarkable Australian trio, augmented by harpist Clare Cooper on the tune The Ascending Aorta. With bassist Clayton Thomas and keyboardist Chris Abrahams (The Necks), Jon Rose has found interlocutors of the first order for sharing his love of the violin and acoustic improvisation....Artery's music is sublime. The music encompasses a wide variety of forms while following a very precise aesthetic direction. One cannot imagine such sparkle and vigor at the confluence of modal music, contemporary improvisation, and La Monte Young, with influences of Northern India and of Central Asia. It's a superb piece of work.'
'For a long while I only could admire his activities from the distance, till my paths crossed again with that of now white-haired Dr. Rosenberg, doctor 'of all things radical on, about, and with violins, strings, and fences'. A performance of Futch - yes, futsch, German slang for 'gone!', spoiled, fucked up - the concert on 03/25/2006 in Weikersheim's Club W 71 offered this welcome opportunity... When Rose teaches a lesson to ears tanned with well tempered hearing, you feel like you are a freshman at University. With only a few strokes of his violin-bow as an indication, he transforms chamber music into caterwauling. Any kid can instantly dig the improvement - as you at the same time catch on to the fact, that passion is the most beautiful science. Rose fiddling like Erich Zann, like Mutter on speed, Bauer blaring like an elefant bull with Tourette syndrom, and Lehn all fingers and thumbs twiddling his knobs, as if feverishly trying to unprime a time-bomb --- the band is contagious. All the while Futch remains an impossible faulty being, a duck-bill platypus, a frankenstein being made from three completely different and asynchronous musical genres. Rose sitting in the middle picks chamber music titbits from Vivaldi to Lachenmann. Bauer, on the left wing, trombones with and without mutes, using all the finesses imaginable - it's amazing what ordinary yoghurt cups are good for - gutbucket New Orleans jazz from before the big flood. As if the music would run right through his body, he is rockin' and rollin', he is puffing and scatting, and literally incorporating the inner pulse of Futch's music, even when the heartbeat is goat-jumping around like Rose's violin-bow on string. In the same way Lehn at the right acts as if he is directly connected to the circuits of his synthesizer, representing the electronic age, although in its pioneer stage still running on steam. What noise his gyro-gearloose-mini-moog, triggered with spiderish push-button-control, is spitting out. From hickups, that bite air-holes in the tissue of sound, to dramatic Keith-Emerson-like grinding, I am reminded of the soundtrack from a time-worn Science Fiction movie that wobbles from reality to reality with erratic slackening and accerlerating speed. Futch music is like a glass, filled with Romanticism, Jazz, and Electronic, tumbling down a staircase, and crashing in countless splinters. But as in a paradox of time that only Stephen Hawkins could explain, the fall is stretching for an hour, resulting in a glass that is 'futch' (broken) but the music more complete than before. Others may call this deconstruction or serious damage. But nothing is wrecked. And all visitors of Club W 71 are feeling more alive than before. Enthusiastic applaus confirms that fact.'
Bad Alchemy magazine
'The concluding concert for REV was Hyperstring by Jon Rose. Having never experienced Rose's improvisations for midi activating violin and bow, I was filled with an almost manic joy-much like Rose himself. He prefaced the concert with words to the effect, 'if you don't like what I'm doing at one time, hang in there because I'll soon be doing something different.' Like a hot whirlwind from hell he ploughed through his bag of tricks-similar to a car radio being tuned-creating fast and furious chaos punctuated by occasional moments of simplicity: a rumination on the place of the banjo; a glacial sample storm with minimalist melodic line. Rose is all fingers and toes, wiggling and jiggling and tickling every possible sound out of his instrument from rubbing the back of the violin with a wet finger to blaring speaker feedback like a vintage rockstar. He must have felt like one when the flock rushed him afterwards to talk. It was a glorious sounding out for the festival.'
Real Time Magazine