For the past thirty years, Alan Licht has been a performer, programmer, and chronicler of New York's art and music scenes. His dry wit, deep erudition, and unique perspective—informed by decades of experience as a touring and recording guitarist in the worlds of experimental music and underground rock—have distinguished him as the go-to writer for profiles of adventurous artists across genres. A precocious scholar and improvisor, by the time he graduated from Vassar College in 1990 Licht had already authored important articles on minimalist composers La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, and Charlemagne Palestine, and recorded with luminaries such as Rashied Ali and Thurston Moore. In 1999 he became a regular contributor to the British experimental music magazine The Wire while continuing to publish in a wide array of periodicals, ranging from the artworld glossies to underground fanzines.
Common Tones gathers a selection of never-beforepublished interviews, many conducted during the writing of Licht's groundbreaking profiles, alongside extended versions of his celebrated conversations with artists, previously untranscribed public exchanges, and new dialogues held on the occasion of this collection. Even Lou Reed, a notoriously difficult interviewee also included here, was suitably impressed.
Alan Licht (born 1968) is a writer, musician, and curator based in New York City. He is equally known for his guitar work in the underground rock bands Run On and Lovechild and in the experimental groups the Blue Humans and Text of Light. He has released numerous solo guitar albums and duo and trio records of improvised music, collaborating with avant-garde musicians such as Jim O'Rourke, Loren Mazzacan Connors, Rudolf Grey, Lee Ranaldo and Aki Onda.
Licht is a contributing music editor at BOMB magazine and his essays and reviews have appeared in Artforum, Parkett, The Wire, The Believer, Sight & Sound, and many other publications. He is the author of An Emotional Memoir of Martha Quinn, an extended personal essay about coming of age as a rock fan and musician; Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, the first full-length study of sound installations and sound sculpture to appear in English; and Sound Art Revisited, an updated version of the latter, published in 2020; and he is a coauthor of Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy, a collection of interviews with Will Oldham, and, with Cory Arcangel and Howie Chen, the concert transcription compilation Title TK 2010–2014.