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Collaborating with drummer Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Man Forever), guitarist Alan Licht (Lee Ranaldo & the Dust, The Blue Humans, Love Child, Run On, etc.) is back for another release on New Images Ltd. We Thought We Could Do Anything is a far less literal take on spontaneous dialogue than his “talk-rock” project Title TK, whose album / sleeve / book Rock$ was published in 2013.
Impressive pedigrees aside, Licht and Chase are a real-deal pairing; each has a longstanding involvement in underground rock, minimalism, experimental music, and free improvisation. We Thought We Could Do Anything is their first record together and it lives by its intrepid name. Conceived as a series of structured improvisations, it joins fiery drumming with titanic guitar abstraction for a collection of sharply focused sonic passages. It’s music with the harshest colors up front and in detail. Licht’s guitar is the torrential speech at hand, and its dynamic limits are bound only by the album’s run-time.
On improvisatory epic “18:12,” Chase teases out overtones from his snare drum and toms that interface with the flood of harmonics spilling out of Licht’s dizzying runs. The searing ambient drone piece “Irreal / Erosion” is a mind-meld employing the just intonation experiments of Chase’s solo Drums and Drones CD (Pogus, 2013) as a launching point. “Immediate Release” and “Double Rubble” are shorter studies—Licht adds his trademark twirling-screwdriver-on-open-strings technique to one of Chase’s drum-sourced electronic thunderclouds on the former, while Chase improvises with percussion over a treated field recording of a ventilation unit on the latter.
Together Licht and Chase forge a collaborative language impressively non-referential, rendering genre labels obsolete. In essence, it’s free: the album’s title is taken from a book about screenwriting in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and reflects the wide open approach that these two artists take.