Jon Rose: The People's Music (2003)
The People's Music is a wild surrealist fantasy that traces a rhythmic counterpoint in sound between the playing of a musical instrument, namely the violin, and the mass production of that instrument, according to the liner notes. What we have is in fact the musical element of a multimedia piece involving an interactive video installation, and as such we're missing at least fifty percent of the overall spectacle of the production in much the same way as any soundtrack album. The fact that the whole thing is presumably deeply ironic in its very celebration of the "People's Music" also means that any discussion of this music as such is rendered only more difficult.
As it is, this is a dose of pretty anonymous writing for strings with the occasional accompaniment of "industrial percussion" — presumably to symbolise the noise of the title in the case of "Working People" — which in its way might just be a celebration of wearying physical labour by people who will never have to do it.
"Some People" has some hectoring narrative, including a quote from Mao Zedong, and this has the effect of making the absence of a visual element even more pronounced. Here, as elsewhere, the music doesn't have enough character to stand on its own, although on "People Control" (oh the irony!), something distinctive does emerge, and it's here that we get closest to Rose's highly individual work both as an improvising violinist and as a sculptor and manipulator of sound; the absence of the visual element and the concept behind the work are both irrelevant, which is as it should be if the music is to be evaluated for what it is.
Ultimately, for all of its surrealism and wildness, neither of which are overtly detectable in the music itself, this disc has all the maddening aspects of the average soundtrack, and unless the listener is able to approach it without any prior information as to what the music is all about, the effect is the opposite of watching, say, Citizen Kane with no volume.
Track Listing: 1. Start The People 2. Wake Up People 3. Working People 4. No People 5. Your People 6. Some People 7. People Control 8. Big People 9. Odd People 10. Noisy People 11. Busy People 12. The People's Struggle 13. The People's End
Personnel: Members of the West Australian Youth Orchestra and the University Of Western Australia String Orchestra. Lindsay Gregory, Conductor. Hannah Clemen, Rachael Dease, Chris Cobilis, Industrial Percussion. Jon Rose, Accelerometer Powered Sampling, Conducting Arm.