Whilst the notion of new music from Australia’s red centre is certainly intriguing, when it’s paired with iconic Australian violinist, composer and multimedia artist Jon Rose it’s difficult not to get a little excited. Rose is probably best known for his work playing the great outback fences of Australia, though he is also a remarkable improvisor and builder of experimental musical instruments – many of which you can see on his website here.
A relocation to Alice Springs saw him reunite with Brazilian double bassist and free improvisor Luiz Gubeissi ( Abaetetuba Collective/ Splinter Orchestra) who was working in the town as a social worker. The duo now play together every Sunday afternoon also regularly performing concerts from Rose’s house for local townsfolk.
This resulting album is a curious amalgamation of sounds and approaches. There is all manner of whirring, buzzing and scraping as whilst for the majority of the album Rose uses the tenor violin, he also indulges in some of his unique creations like the 32 String Web, The Well Strung Chair, The Plectraphone, and The Revolving Help Violin – all of which he describes as automatons though also requiring some manual manipulation. You have to wonder what Alice Springs resident think when he brings one of these bizarre instruments out.
It’s highly textural work, yet the duo provide each other plenty of space to move around. Without percussion they can increase or reduce tempo – even pause, as they desire. At times it feels like the music is going to collapse in on itself, at others it feels so free and light that it could float away. It can be both guttural and shrill, but it does feel incredibly exploratory. Anything can and often does happen. It’s clear that improvisation is a very large part of their repertoire, with both players expert in working with abrupt changes in density, volume or cadence.
It’s actually quite astounding the timbre of the sounds that they are able to generate in this string duo. It’s a bold and strange exploratory work between two seasoned improvisers who weirdly enough managed to find themselves in the centre of Australia at the same time. Look them up if you ever find yourself up that way.