Fringe Benefits is a compilation of recordings emanating from Jon Rose’ Australian organization baring the same name which was a promotional tool of sorts for improvised music. Rose states in the liners: “.........Over half of these tapes had deteriorated so much that they had become unplayable. I decided to make a sampler of FBR, using material from either cassette or disc (all the LP master tapes except one were sadly destroyed in a Sydney squat)”. Rose discloses that these recordings were made between 1977 and 1985 and some of the actual dates are unknown.
John Rose is a violinist and an inventor of odd looking and unorthodox violin-type instruments. Examples are: 16 string long neck violin and the well strung ironing board; Double Violin mobile with French moped function; ½ size megaphone violin with FM microphone or did you ever hear of a.......Triple neck, double piston, wheeling violin? Yes, Rose is a Renaissance man yet he can actually create music with these odd contraptions. Thankfully, Rose has provided us with photos throughout the CD insert, which exemplifies the seemingly otherworldly characteristics of these absurd looking instruments.
There are 70 pieces in total as Rose candidly admits that listening to all of this in one sitting could be something of a health hazard. This writer made it through 1 disc at a time and was easily fascinated with many of the strange sounds, free-improvised motifs and sporadic ensemble work with relatively unknown musicians. The improvisation and sometimes-mechanical nature of the music is a source of amazement. You may laugh, scrutinize some of the material or waive the white flag; however, if you should be a free-improv-jazz enthusiast Fringe Benefits may fill a huge gap in your CD collection. There’s a strong chance you may become enthralled or thoroughly agitated. Either way, Rose seems like a fascinating if not eccentric person and/or musician. In summary, it would be hard to rate this 2 CD set as it is very specialized and may see limited appeal even within the free-jazz market. This writer cautiously bestows **** but it’s not for everyone. See website URL below for additional information: