A 25 piece string orchestra launches into what sounds like Janacek, but gets stuck in repeating fragments. The recording of a factory guide speaks to us in Chinese, when suddenly her voice is yanked away, and is transposed up and down the octaves. Video manipulator Tom Demeyer grabs a Suzuki class from Vancouver, and collages it directly into the mix, leading to a kind of cross cultural nervous breakdown. Kaffe Mathews surveys the whole scene and casually samples elements, cajoling and terrorising the mix. Hu Xin Hang intervenes on the er-hu, the traditional two string Chinese violin. And then there is Jon himself, occasionally unleashing a riot of post-jazz violin improvisation, augmented by outrageous new gadgets like the midi bow, which Jon introduced spectacularly on his last CD for Rer, The Hyperstring Project.

The score for Violin Factory was devised for a large scale multi-media performance, part of the marathon Relative Violin Night; it was recorded in the concert hall of Austrian radio, in Vienna on 7th December 1999. The piece derives from Jon's fascination with the mass production of violins in China, which supplies the whole of Asia with cheap and cheerful instruments. On visits to China in the 90's Jon desperately tried to film and record production in the new violin factory, but was always denied access as a potential industrial spy. What has survived from these reconnaissance missions are sounds and footage from the ruins of the Mao era factories, now just semi-derelict shells, operated by just a few workers.

The string writing is assured and mesmeric, and recalls the stunning score for Godard's Alphaville, where similar elements are endlessly repeated. Violin factory is a fascinating collision between composition, improvisation, sampling and multi-media. It's a major new work from a composer with a reputation as a joker and iconoclast, but who has here created a powerful work that is driven by a real sense of tragedy and wry humour.

"The masses have a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for the violin" CHAIRMAN MAO

"Demonic fire, bravado and virtuosity. This is sonic art at the vanguard" OPTION

"He plays like a manic, frenzied Paganini" VOX

UPC # 7527250124230

source: RéR Megacorp Catalog Listing December 2001