Boomkat Product Review:
Premiere vinyl reissue of riveting 1982 experiments on a long string instrument by Terry Fox, a pivotal 1st generation conceptual artist from San Francisco who worked extensively at the intersection of sound and performance
Out of print for nearly 4 decades, ‘Linkage’ sees Tery Fox yield remarkable range of sonorities from a very long piano string wires strung up to 33m in length and played with rosined fingers and a steel sardine can that acts as a resonator. In the history of avant garde ‘Linkage’ is held up alongside (perhaps better known) works by Alvin Lucier, Ellen Fullman and Alan Lamb/David Burraston/Robin Fox as among the finest recordings made on a long string instrument, and may well make listeners want to find the nearest railings or disused telephone wires in order to create their own range of deeply satisfying, reverberant twangs. For that matter, trams and their catenaries are usually a good place to find these sort of sounds, too (just don’t go attaching contact mics to live wires tho, eh?).
“Linkage, Fox's first album, was originally released in 1982 to accompany an installation at Kunstmuseum Luzern in Switzerland. The record would mark Fox's first attempt to realize his groundbreaking and visceral piece "Berlin Wall Scored for Sound."
Side one links five ways of playing the piano wires: drumming, pulling, bowing, beating and scraping. The room itself acts as a type of natural resonator as Fox moves the wires with padded mallet, his bare fingers, violin bow, wooden shish kebab stick and rusted metal rod. The effect of such plain arrangements can be utterly hypnotizing. The second half of Linkage was recorded in the attic of Künstlerhaus Bethanien, West Berlin, in May 1981. A thirty-three meter long wire was held in contact with a sardine tin. Over the course of 20 minutes, pulsating drones dissolve into rhythmic patterns that sound almost synthetic in origin. As noted in the original LP pamphlet, all these sounds were strictly acoustic; the only electronics involved was the recording equipment.
In an introduction for this edition, Marita Loosen-Fox and Ron Meyers write, "The desire to eliminate any barriers between the art and the viewer/audience connects all of Fox's situations/actions/performances. The ultimate goal is to communicate as directly as possible, which finds its most concentrated expression in the artist's works with sound."