Ellen Fullman has been crafting long weaves of sound with her Long String Instrument for almost 35 years now, and this LP from 1985 was the first recorded document of her work. By long, we are talking in the region of 70 feet, so these string drones sound like little else. LP reissued by Superior Viaduct.
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- The Long String Instrument by Ellen Fullman
9/10 Laurie Staff review, 20 October 2015
There comes a time when instruments become furniture, when they run their ordinary course and all sorts of experimentalists try to record themselves sitting on them in the hope of finding new souuuuunnnndss. Few succeed. Let’s look at the guitar - plucked by delta bluesmen, noodled by jazzers, thwacked by rockers and finally held by Noel Gallagher, it’s fair to say that it’s done most of what it can do. Shoegaze exists, a genre dedicated to the sound of the guitar through a bunch of FX pedals, I mean, talk about dragging it out.
Along comes someone like Ellen Fullman with a simple, silly-sounding idea - ‘why don’t we just make the strings longer?’ she asks. Noel replies, ‘that’s called a bass, mate’. What little Noel didn’t know is that she actually meant 100 strings, each of NINETY FEET in length. This is an instrument that you play by walking, a lot, up and down the length of the vibrating strings, touching it at various points to coax out different tones. A simple idea becomes a behemoth of sonic possibility and physical engineering, and the results are astounding. Drone’s big right now, yeah? Well, this 1985 recording contains some of the most timeless, rich drones I’ve heard of late - reminiscent of the metal string in tone, you hear them morph unlike any guitar could, sounding almost synth-esque, suddenly like a violin, then back to walls of undulating tone. It’s sort of like Core of the Coalman’s recent live stuff featuring warped violin.
There’s some rhythmic content on the B side, ‘Swingen’ containing a simple pulse that the string ‘arrangements’ follow, the formless mass doing a calming call and response. Recorded in Eindhoven with Arnold Dreyblatt.
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