Fleisch: The Hyperstring Project 2
Saucerlike Recordings SL005

Madman Rose is at it again. The man who is to the violin as John Coltrane was to the saxophone — or maybe Dr. Edward Teller was to the atom — is at it again.

The British-born, sometime Amsterdam-based, Sydney, Australia-resident Jon Rose has, like Coltrane did with the saxophone, immersed himself in every facet and technique of his instrument. But like Teller, father of the H-bomb who put the atom to non-peaceful purposes, Rose also uses this great knowledge to create a musical version of a weapon of mass destruction and nearly destroy any concept we have of the four-string music maker.

The 20[!] tracks on FLEISCH offer up more of this formula. Rose treats fiddles figuratively somewhat the way American troops used to literally treat Vietnamese villages in the 1960s: he sonically destroys them to preserve the basic sound underneath.

Thus on this collection of tracks, recorded between 1997 and 2003, and running from less than one minute to almost seven, you find the violinist in all his guises. Rose, who has been involved with projects as different as fanciful, music-directed radio plays and membership in Slawterhaus, a mostly (East) German rock/jazz improv group, always seems to be able to find new areas of mischief within which to become involved.

Early on, for instance, on “The Screaming Pope”, Rose, using a live violin plus sampled piano, bass and cello improvises along with a voice. But the voice isn’t from a soundsinger like England’s Phil Minton or Holland’s Jaap Blonk however. Instead it’s the recorded-off-the-TV sound of a highly agitated and garrulous Italian mobile phone salesman named Roberto pushing his latest product until his voice is hoarse from the effort. Competing with the real-life sounds of cell phones, customer testimonials and seemingly indefatigable Roberto, Rose creates a baroque-inflected chamber music work for the 21st Century.

Another duet on “The Call” features a sampled whipolin that mirrors the voice modulations of a dog race caller at an Australian racetrack. Then there’s “Perfume”, where the violinist manipulates a 78-rpm record of a cello player with all the dexterity of a club DJ, forcing the unknown player into unexpected repetitions and contortions as the sound advances.

Don’t forget the trio of “Geigebones” tracks. They features a combination of sampled instruments, real-time violin and some artful tampering and machination with the sound sources so that they become percussive, discordant — and perhaps just plain cracked. The results create what could be a new genre of found sounds, maybe musique fou?

Finally there’s the CD’s 10, mostly one-minute-or-so-each “Nose” variations, where MIDI pitch-shifted, boogie-woogie piano licks, rote classical pianism, rattling clawhammer banjo picking, echoes and reverberations join real-time, violin and tenor violin tones to produce a cumulative sonic miasma that pushes the limits of electro-acoustic creations. Of course being Rose-created digressions, these variations amble along at a rapid enough clip that they lack the bloated seriousness that affects many electro-acoustic projects.

Obviously this is no CD for anyone who regards the violin as a sacred object that only plays oh-so-proper music which is only consumed in a proper setting. In fact, it may frighten virtuoso string followers as well, whether their preference is Jascha Heifetz, Stéphane Grappelli or whomever else is pushing this year’s version of the classical — or classical jazz — repertoire. But if your idea of violin music includes deadly serious mirth makers like Billy Bang and Stuff Smith. And if you like exceptional improvisations spiked with a dollop of sarcasm, hilarity and myth making, head off prestissimo to find this disc.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. The Word Becomes Fleisch 2. The Screaming Pope 3. The House of Goth 4. The Call 5. Trumpet Crumpet 6. Geigebones 1 7. Geigebones 2 8. Geigebones 3 9. The Nose 10. Second Nose 11. The Broken Nose 12. The Repeating Nose 13. Mr. Nose 14. The Twitching Nose 15. The 2 part Nose 16. The Seventh Nose 17. Not the Nose 18. Nose End 19. Spare Body Parts 20. Perfume

Personnel: Jon Rose (violin, tenor violin, bowed string, one-string violin amplified bow, viola, wind-up 78 rpm record player, and interactive MIDI powered samples of piano, bass, cello, 19-string cello, whipolin, viola, cymbalon, banjo, bow plus MIDI controlled bow pressure, accelorometers, the three dimensional pedal, and foot pedal board)