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A1 Havens

A2 Five Chords and a Sword​

B1 Nonchalant

C1 Frank Sinatra Drive

D1 The Daily Sit
D2 1970



Alan Licht: acoustic and electric guitars, mellotron, vocal

Havens, Five Chords and 1970 recorded by Eli Crews at Spillway Sound, West Hurley NY August 21, 2021 mixed by Eli Crews with Alan Licht August—October 2021

FS Drive and Nonchalant recorded by Eli Crews at Spillway Sound, West Hurley NY October 19-20, 2022 mixed by Eli Crews with Alan Licht October 2022

The Daily Sit recorded and mixed by Ted Young at Outer Space, Brooklyn NY August 13-14, 2014

All tracks by Alan Licht (BMI) except “1970” by Dave Alexander, Jim Osterberg, Ron Asheton & Scott Asheton (BMG Bumblebee)

Front cover photo by Alan Licht
Gatefold cover photo by Laurent Orseau
Artwork and layout by Miles Wintner
Mastered by Jeff Yellen, Ridgeline Sound


Alan Licht


2LP Gatefold Edition

Release Date: September 20, 2024 / 2LP - $35

Alan Licht returns to VDSQ with Havens, a sprawling double-disc set of exploratory guitar-based compositions forged from the myriad possibilities arising when strings collide with electricity & space. Licht is masterful and relentless in his negotiation of the often-unknowable intersections that exist between juxtaposing strands of sound. His work is marked by contrast & contradiction: maximalism versus minimalism; rockist inclinations versus avant, expanded-field expression; loose improvisation versus considered performance. What these dichotomies shouldn’t obscure, however, is the simple pleasure that transpires in his refracting of idiom, conjuring expansive pieces that collapse, stratify & convolve competing schools of music to wholly singular ends.

Havens documents a new sound for Licht, building on a previous VDSQ release "Currents," his last major solo outing from 2015. Playing those solo acoustic tracks live on tour, their lyricism translated through the power of a PA, Licht was taken by the overtones surging atop those song-like pieces, transforming them into something new. The compositions here, particularly the mesmeric title track, luxuriate in that newfound sense of possibility, infused with a rock-born urgency by way of lightning-fast, urgent strumming gradually unfurling layers of phantom harmonics. Celestial punk, if you will; guitar soli of such ever-surging vitality as to blur & distend dense chord shapes to phantasmagoric effect. The record is rich with considered, contained explosivity, firmly minimalist in its patient pace & ear for hallucination but expressed in defiantly, deliciously rock terms, each piece its own lyrical hybrid built of scant elements unfurled with painterly grace. This is firmly a "guitar" record, despite what your ears might tell you; barring a short mellotron intervention, Havens is almost unbelievably wrought from guitar alone, ably deployed straight or perverted into abstracted spectres & illusions.

The central pairing of sidelong epics, "Nonchalant" & "Frank Sinatra Drive", feel as succinct an encapsulation as any as to the magic of this new approach. On the former, a focal acoustic figure is put through the most beautiful of wringers over its peripatetic duration, Licht moving up the fretboard with intuitive precision to properly excavate the possibilities of the melody as wraith tones take hold & thrust it all upward. The latter, moving over to electric and adding a brief, enigmatic vocal, is a full-throttle beauty, a multi-movement set of variations on a single chord progression realized through a cascade of resplendent guitar that feels like infinite rapture, accelerating towards the ether before plateauing in splendid drone. Elsewhere, the same tools are put towards more contained ends to no less glorious results. "Five Chords and a Sword" (calling back to his idiosyncratic 2022 covers collection Three Chords and a Sword) finds a delirious slide-strewn refrain swallowed by a dense swarm of bliss a la Jim O’Rourke’s Happy Days albeit exclusively by way of ebowed acoustic guitar. "The Daily Sit", the oldest composition here, takes a similarly bright tune & lets it wander down labyrinthine paths with deft control, before we head out on an extended, climactic cover of the Stooges’ "1970," the unbridled repetitive glee of the original set adrift in minimalist fantasia, jutting out in ever more angular shapes & circling back to a place far removed from where it all began.

This loving dislocation & reframing of the rock lexicon remains true to the Licht M.O., Havens being a resoundingly deep listen teeming with visceral energy, a glorious love letter to the still-unexplored potentialities of a simple guitar thrust into the hands of an individual who simultaneously reveres its known nooks but steadfastly continues to push it into crannies uncharted.

—Edward Beaver, Nature’s Trip Records 

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