Jon Rose

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Shopping.Live@Victo Review

by François Couture

In 1994-1995, Jon Rose temporarily set aside the Rosenberg family as a subject for his radio plays to focus instead on consumerism. Violin Music for Supermarkets and Violin Music in the Age of Shopping extended his sound collage technique to a market-shelved structure filled with ready-mades. Shopping.Live@Victo documents a performance at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in May 1994. For the occasion, an avant-garde all-star group formed of Chris Cutler, Lauren Newton, Joëlle Léandre, and Otomo Yoshihide, delivered a dense suite of disparate sections of music. In a typical Naked City/Ground Zero style, the composition jumps back and forth without warning between death metal and syrupy Muzak. Why it doesn't work so well this time remains hard to pin down. Rose's composition has grown somewhat easy on the humorous/satirical side -- witness his brutal attack on Laurie Anderson, which takes the general feel of the music closer to Eugene Chadbourne's political extravaganzas than Rose's other radio plays. Yoshihide's samples and kitsch music records become too illustrative. Moreover, since Léandre and Newton speak French, they addressed the audience mostly in that language -- other listeners may feel left out at times. The propos in Brain Weather remained at a surreal level that made it incomprehensible as a whole and enjoyably strange section by section. Here the sociological theme, treated much more directly, sounds forced at times. The performers are excellent given the restricted freedom they enjoy, but they don't make this album an essential Rose item.

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