Experimental Music, Improvisation
Creative Sources Records CS229
Reviewed by Tony Mitchell, October 1st, 2014
This is a European collaboration of free improvisers by Australian violinist Jon Rose, who also plays tenor violin, with Meinrad Kneer, a German double bass player based in Amsterdam, and UK composer/improviser Richard Barrett. Barrett divides his time between London and Berlin, and is also a member of the Australian International Elision Ensemble, noted for performing music by Liza Lim, and the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble.
Creative Sources Records is based in Lisbon and has released albums by a wide range of European avant-garde musicians artists including Berlin-based Australian Tony Buck who is also a member of The Necks.
The title and cover photo refer to rosin, also the title of Rose’s box set released last year, and also known as colophony or Greek pitch (Pix græca), the solid form of resin obtained from pines and other plants and used to lubricate violin bows. It is of course also a pun on Rose’s name.
The album was recorded in Berlin in June 2012 and the three musicians subsequently toured Europe. It is free electro-acoustic improvisation, and the 11 tracks are titled Colophony 1 to 11, although of varying lengths. Colophony 8 lasts just 45 seconds, and consists of a series of shrieks, while Colophony 5 is 13 and a half minutes.
The bowed instruments appear to dominate, with both also plucked regularly, while Barrett’s electronics are relatively subdued, although all three musicians are consummate improvisers.
There are variations in dynamics, range and tone, although the overall mood is rather subdued, especially on track 13, and at times there are demands made on the listener, as one would expect of Rose. He is however without his usual bag of tricks here, in the sense that he plays relatively “conventional” violin.
The three performers blend together seamlessly, and often it is difficult to tell the instruments apart. There is also a sense of control, as if, although being composed in the moment, the music and the conversation between the musicians is carefully thought through.