Alan Licht

The Renaissance Society

Bond Chapel
1025 East 58th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
FREE / RSVP HERE
FREE / RSVP HERE

Two solo electric guitar works—one long and one short.

Licht explains:

I have been doing set-length extended pieces for solo electric guitar since the late 90s. This latest one, as yet untitled, was started in November 2017, when I was invited to play a house show and wanted something new to play for a solo electric concert. I had been doing the solo acoustic pieces from my album Currents as well as the piece released as Four Years Later for the last few years. I remember a particular delay pedal that created resonances that accentuated overtones, and came up with a set of chord changes to explore that. I was using a special tuning that I came up with in the early 2000s but have never recorded with, as well as the fingerstyle strumming technique that I use on several tracks on Currents. I combined that with a loop on one chord, revisiting the same idea from my version of the Minutemen’s Polarity found on my very first solo guitar LP, Sink the Aging Process. The piece went over so well at the house concert that I decided to expand it by incorporating several passages from a long, unrecorded solo acoustic piece that I had been doing live, which took the Stooges’ 1970 as a starting point.

All of these long pieces, from Remington Khan (performed at Lampo in 2001) to 14, Second, Fifth to YMCA to Four Years Later, build in some way on the one that came before, and represent a new transition; this one is no exception, reaching back to older techniques involving signal processing while continuing the compositional ideas developed in the acoustic pieces from Currents.

The semi-improvised short piece, also as yet untitled, evolved out of a different, abandoned short piece and is more effects-heavy. Contrasting the longer piece both in texture and duration, played with a pick rather than fingers, and made up only of single notes rather than chords, it’s intended as a kind of built-in encore for solo concerts.

Guitarist and author Alan Licht (b.1968, N.J.) is active in New York’s rock and experimental music scenes as a composer, improviser and curator. Since the early 1990s he has developed a repertoire of structured improvisation pieces for solo electric guitar. These works bring together his interests in re-harmonization (from jazz and classical music), process, repetition, and extended duration (from Minimalism), and the textural vocabularies of rock and noise music.

He is revered for his work with with Rudolph Grey’s group the Blue Humans, Loren Mazzacane Connors, and Text of Light. In 2010, he started a project called Title TK with media artist Cory Arcangel and curator Howie Chen. All three are guitarists and consider themselves a band. In live appearances they walk onstage with guitars but never plug them in or play; instead they simply talk to each other (mostly about music). More recent activities include recording and touring with Lee Ranaldo and the Dust, an improv trio with Aki Onda and artist/filmmaker Michael Snow, and a duo with Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase.

A frequent contributor to Artforum and other publications, Licht is also the author of Sound Art: Beyond Music Between Categories (Rizzoli, 2007) and the editor of Will Oldham on Bonnie Prince Billy (Faber & Faber/W.W. Norton, 2012).

Alan Licht has appeared twice before for Lampo. In September 2001, Licht played solo here for the first time, and then was joined by several Chicago musicians to play Betty Ford for seven guitars and screwdrivers. In June 2000, he performed with Canadian artist Michael Snow.

Presented in partnership with the Renaissance Society