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- Four Years Older by Alan Licht
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Did anybody here have a ZX Spectrum in the house when you were growing up? Remember those tapes you used to load up the games, and the five minutes of maddening screeching you had to endure before you could play them? The reason I ask is because I’m listening to this week’s Edition Mego - an LP from legendary New York avant garde guitarist Alan Licht which sees him contribute two lengthy guitar improvisations - ‘Four Years Later’ from 2012 and ‘Four Years Earlier’ from (surprise surprise) 2008. He uses a weird guitar tone at the start of the former with some kind of infinite sustain on it which makes this crunchy fluttering digital sound like one of the aforementioned ZXes, it’s quite disarming at first, like going back in time.
Over the course of the record, though, his improvisations do develop, from weird scratchy drones to chaotic Orcutt-ish fretwork to cascading fingerpicked chimes which leave greasy trails of spluttering distortion. It’s certainly a record which might be considered by many to be quite hard work, but as these chin-stroking records go it’s actually pretty fun and playful once you acclimatise yourself to the purposefully grotesque guitar tone. ‘Four Years Earlier’ has similar things going on but the recording is more muddy and less violent-sounding. At one point it just sounds like he’s sawing through a big log.
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