Jon Rose

The Virtual Violin

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AllMusic Review by François Couture

Released in 1993, a year after Jon Rose's seminal album Violin Music for Restaurants (the first myth-constructing artifact about one Jo "Doc" Rosenberg), The Virtual Violin culls disparate works. Listeners are first presented with four pieces that blend acoustic and computer music. The two "Orchestra of Ancient Guts" tracks and "Mr. Aha May Comes to Town" pair Rose's violin to a MIDI interface. The wild sounds erupting from his instrument explore the interesting interaction between man and machine, but the music sounds just like all the similar attempts from that period (i.e., cold and two-dimensional). "The Future Looks More and More Just Like the Past" is a sound collage/electro-acoustic piece based on a short voice sample. The real deal with this album resides in the 40-minute radio play "Play It Again, Doc." Stranger than strange, it allies electronic manipulations, kitsch music, improv, and speech. The story: An airline pilot crashes his plane and all its passengers into the Sydney Opera House because of a prediction Jo "Doc" Rosenberg made. Surreal scenes of Olga and Igor searching for the doctor, slightly perverted-sounding Holmes and Watson, and other unexplainable scenes are interspersed, while an anti-music business thread wraps things up. The play manages to get hold of the listener's attention, but only because one desperately tries to find some sense in it. It pales in comparison to Rose's later works, especially Brain Weather, but is of interests to fans, as some conceptual continuity threads find their source here. The title track pairs classical-style string ensemble playing with a line from Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and the Beatles' "Yesterday" mutated to fit Michael Jackson-related actuality -- a bit childish, but good for a laugh.