Jack Rose - Biography
By J Poet
Jack Rose is taking John Fahey’s Gospel of American Primitive Music into the 21st Century with an acoustic guitar style known for its bell-like single note sustains notes and icy slide work. His style hints at blues, ragtime, Indian classical, and folk and some avant-garde and experimental touches tossed in for good measure.
Rose got his start in the experimental instrumental quartet Pelt with guitarists Mike Gangloss, Pat Best and Skipp James Connell. They used drones and noise a la Velvet Underground/Sonic Youth to create a glorious cacophony. Early efforts like Brown Cyclopaedia (1996 VHF), Max Meadows (1997 VHF), and Empty Bell Ringing In The Sky (2000 VHF) were a glorious mash up of acoustic and electric sounds that carved out their own unique space in post-rock. Rose slowly began to dominate the band and Ayahuasca (2001 VHF) featured Rose’s acoustic raga-like lead lines over the sonic barrage, while on Pearls From The River (2001 VHF) the band went acoustic with lengthy psychedelic folk ragas.
Rose continues to play with Pelt, but in 2001 launched a parallel solo career with acoustic music that’s a bit more mainstream, if one considers American Primitive Music mainstream, that is. His first solo works were the purposefully obscure Red Horse, White Mule (2002 Eclipse) which came out in a limited edition of 500 LPs and Opium Musick, (2003 Eclipse), which was limited to 1000 LPs. They’re collected on Two Originals of Jack Rose (2004 VHF, 2004 Beautiful Happiness UK.) Raag Manifestos (2004 VHF) another jaw dropping display of virtuosity, was limited to 1000 CDs.
Kensington Blues (2005 VHF) includes more fancy picking, Jack Rose (2006 Archive) is almost minimal, with lengthy meditations played on the slide guitar and Dr Ragtime & Pals (2008 Tequila Sunrise) another Fahey-influenced offering that came out only on LP. Dr Ragtime & Pals/Self Titled (2008 Beautiful Happiness UK) collects Jack Rose and Dr. Ragtime on one CD. A live album, I Do Play Rock & Roll (2008 Three Lobed) captures Rose without a net, but is limited again to 1,000 copies.
Meanwhile, Rose made Untitled (2005 VHF) with Pelt, an album that appeared with no credits, no label information and no song titles. It’s all acoustic, but the instruments are manipulated to produce an overwhelming , atonal, arrhythmic drone. Rose died of an apparent heart attack in 2009.