Alan Licht & Darin Gray | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Alan Licht & Darin Gray 

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ALAN LICHT & DARIN GRAY

Crafting quirky pop tunes and unleashing torrents of guitar noise are all in a day's work for New York guitarist Alan Licht. In the liner notes to his 1997 solo disc The Evan Dando of Noise? (Corpus Hermeticum), as he tries to explain why a form as rigid as the pop song isn't incompatible with improvisation, Licht argues that the act of living is the ultimate improvisation, and that even if certain structures are inherent, what matters most is the process of perpetually reinventing them. Though there are plenty of like-minded musicians in New York, including Licht's frequent collaborator Loren MazzaCane Connors, recently he's been coming to Chicago in search of sparring partners. In fact, the credits to his and Connors's new Hoffman Estates (Drag City)--a masterpiece of moody improv inspired by the early-70s work of Miles Davis, with Jim O'Rourke playing the Teo Macero role--read like a who's who of the Chicago improv scene. When Licht performs solo, he tends to fall back on noisy, hypnotic minimalism, but I've also seen him contribute concise, original work to rock bands like Run On and Love Child and trade restrained, empathetic licks with Connors--and for this performance he'll play with the heaviest rocker of the Hoffman Estates gang, bassist Darin Gray, formerly of Dazzling Killmen and currently with You Fantastic! Further speculation about what exactly will go down would be foolish, but whatever it is will certainly be worth checking out. Sam Prekop and Town and Country open. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Alan Lichet photo by Patsy Desmond; Darin Gray photo uncredited.

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